Who Pays the Taxes?

Who Pays the Taxes?


On November 13, 2018, the Tax Foundation posted the following information to its website:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently released new data on individual income taxes for tax year 2016, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, and income tax shares by income percentiles.

The data demonstrates that the U.S. individual income tax continues to be very progressive, borne primarily by the highest income earners.

  • In 2016, 140.9 million taxpayers reported earning $10.2 trillion in adjusted gross income and paid $1.4 trillion in individual income taxes.
  • The share of reported income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers fell slightly to 19.7 percent in 2016. Their share of federal individual income taxes fell slightly, to 37.3 percent.
  • In 2016, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97 percent of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 3 percent.
  • The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (37.3 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (30.5 percent).
  • The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 26.9 percent individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.7 percent).

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Additional Resources:

IRS Data Prove 2017 Tax Cuts Benefited Middle Class the Most
By Justin Haskins
December 4, 2021

Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2018 Update
By Robert Bellafiore
November 13, 2018

Distribution of Tax Burden
By the Peter G. Peterson Foundation
October 2, 2018

Who Pays Income Taxes?
By the National Taxpayers Union Foundation
February 14, 2019


45% of Americans Pay No Federal Income Tax
By MarketWatch.com
April 18, 2016

OMB: Top 20% Pay 95% of Taxes, Middle Class “Single Digits”
By Paul Bedard

Summary of Latest Federal Individual Income Tax Data (1980-2009)
By The Tax Foundation

CBO: Top 40% Paid 106.2% of Income Taxes; Bottom 40% Paid [Minus] 9.1%
By Terrence Jeffrey
December 9, 2013

Fact Check: The Wealthy Already Pay More Taxes
By Stephen Ohlemacher
September 20, 2011

The Rich Pay More Taxes: Top 20 Percent Pay Record Share of Income Taxes
By Curtis Dubay
May 4, 2009

The Rich Don’t Pay Enough?
By Walter E. Williams
August 30, 2012

Who Pays America’s Tax Burden, and Who Gets the Most Government Spending?
By The Tax Foundation
March 2007

Top 1% Pays More Taxes Than Bottom 95%
By Tim Andrews
July 31, 2009

47% Will Pay No Federal Income Tax
By Jeanne Sahadi
October 3, 2009

Who Pays the Taxes
By Bruce Bartlett
December 17, 2013

The U.S. Income Tax Burden
By Congessional Budget Office
April 17, 2000


The Progressive Income Tax: A Tale of Three Brothers
By Prager University

Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share?
By Prager University

Is America’s Tax System Fair?
By Prager University

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