President Barack Obama and many Democrats are talking about raising taxes on the wealthy, but few Americans actually fit that bill, data released this week by the Internal Revenue Service suggests.
People and households earning more than $1 million annually made up just 0.1 percent, or just over 235,000, of the 140 million tax returns filed in 2009, and just 8,274 returns were filed by people making $10 million or more.
Though the tax rate for Americans earning $1 million or more averaged 24.4 percent, up from 23.1 percent in 2008, that’s still lower than the 28.5 percent rate they paid in 2002 when President George W. Bush was in office.
And, the data shows, of the 235,413 taxpayers reporting incomes seven digits or more in 2009, 1,470 paid not a penny of income taxes. In 2007, 959 Americans earning $1 million or more paid no income taxes.
The returns filed in 2009 reflect income from 2008, the deepest depths of the recession and financial crisis, and, under that backdrop, incomes fell sharply.
The vast majority of tax return filers – more than 97 percent – reported incomes of less than $200,000. The average income was $54,283, a drop of more than $3,500, or 6 percent, from 2008. That put the average income at its lowest level since 1997.
At the same time, the average tax rate declined from 12.5 percent in 2008 to 11.4 percent in 2009.
The amount of unemployment benefits claimed on tax returns nearly doubled between 2008 and 2009, the IRS found.
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