BTC BRIEF: Who Pays Taxes? The Poor, the Rich, and Everyone in Between

By Alexandra Forter Sirota
Budget & Tax Center Director
October 2012

KEY FINDINGS

  • Every household pays taxes. Even the poorest fifth of American households paid an average of one-sixth (16 percent) of their total income in federal, state, and local taxes in 2009.
  • The wealthiest 1 percent of households in the country, with annual incomes averaging more than $1.3 million, paid less than one-third (30.7 percent) of their incomes in total taxes in 2009. In 1970, the wealthiest 1 percent of households paid more than two-fifths (42 percent) of their income in federal taxes alone.
  • Even if Congress lets the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire at the end of this year, they would still pay lower tax rates than they have for most of the last halfcentury.
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