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The Top 400 Taxpayers: Happy Tax Day!

April 15th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Economics

I couldn’t let April 15, Tax Day, pass without some post on the subject of economics.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible financial services firms over the past 15 years at Toolbox Studios. When we talk about the target audiences for branding and marketing, it’s not unusual for us to use two terms to describe the target audience:

  • HNWI – High Net Worth Individuals are people with at least $1 million in investable assets.
  • UHNWI – Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals are people with at least $30 million in investable assets.

After looking at the recently released IRS report on the top 400 tax returns from 1992 through 2007, I think we need to create a new class WTF-HNWI – I’ll let you figure out the acronym…

The report shows that the top 400 tax payers in 2007 accounted for 1.59% of the nation’s total household income, and they were responsible for 2.05% of all income taxes paid in 2007. Stop and consider that for a moment… I’ll try to put some perspective on that:

A total of 143 million tax returns were filed in 2007. The equivalent of the population of California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington, combined.

Yet 1.59% of all income reported in 2007 was from a group of individuals that could easily fit on a Boeing 747. (Assuming they had enough First Class tickets.)

And considering the hype and news about taxes being too high, it’s interesting to see that the average tax rate for the top 400 individuals was only 16.6% – the lowest rate since the government began tracking this group.

I think we need to stop all of the idealogical rhetoric and start talking about the real issues: our entire tax code needs revamping, and government spending is out of control and ineffective.

Props to my favorite economics blogger, Barry Ritholtz, and The Wall Street Journal for bringing this to my attention.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • JC

    I agree with the last 8 words of this post. But are you saying the 400 WTF-HNWI should be paying more? (Your “only 16.6%” suggests this.) Here’s another stat: 400 / 147 million = 0.000272109% (yes two zeros removed for %) are paying 2.05% of taxes. That means they are paying a ratio of 7,533.75 : 1 more than everyone else paying income taxes. (And only half of Americans with incomes pay income taxes.) Let’s look at the

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