Do the Top 0.6 Percent of Americans Generate 30 Percent of the Revenue?
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) said “So let's go back to the tax code. And 0.6 percent of Americans are at the top echelon, over 464,000, 0.6 Americans. That's less than 1 percent. But they generate 30 percent of the revenue.” Those numbers line up with the most recent data. In 2013, almost 900,000 tax returns, or 0.6 percent of the tax returns filed, included some income that was taxed at the highest rate of 39.6 percent, which in 2015 applies to incomes over about $413,000 for single people and $465,000 for couples. Those returns paid almost $370 billion, or 30 percent of that year’s total income tax revenue, while earning 14 percent of all adjusted gross income.
The percentage that pays at the top rate is slightly smaller than 0.6 percent if you include all Americans, since IRS data only shows that 0.6 percent of tax returns paid at the top rate. More than 27 million people did not file a tax return at all in 2013 according to the Tax Policy Center. When counting these Americans, the number is slightly lower at 0.5 percent.
Also, this analysis looks at only income tax revenue. The share of total revenue contributed by this group would likely be smaller since they pay a much smaller share of payroll and excise taxes than they do income taxes.