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2011 Income Percentiles

Posted By Jim On 06/07/2011 @ 7:09 am In Personal Finance | 8 Comments

Every year, following tax season, the Tax Policy Center releases a litany of statistic driven tables and charts. One of the most fascinating, at least to me, is their listing of Income Breaks [3]. The table basically lists where all the percentiles start and end for all tax units, single filers, married filing jointly, and head of household filers based on their models. This is just one of the many charts they have for 2011 [4]. It’s not an exact science and you can argue the accuracy of the models but it’s still an interesting dataset to play with.

Here are the deciles (dollar value for when that decile ends):

Decile All Single MFJ Head of Household
10th $9,235 $5,068 $23,748 $8,614
9th $16,358 $8,294 $37,621 $12,935
8th $23,873 $11,338 $48,695 $16,943
7th $32,188 $15,188 $64,228 $20,245
6th $42,327 $19,092 $74,607 $25,583
5th $57,213 $25,102 $90,473 $29,562
4th $73,866 $32,245 $105,552 $35,987
3rd $97,298 $41,840 $145,454 $44,203
2nd $154,131 $64,858 $191,126 $63,274
1st, 2nd half $200,026 $87,149 $298,736 $77,703

Here were some things that intrigued me:

  • I tried putting that data into a chart but it looks absurd. It’s a long flat line with a little growth until you hit around 95%, then it skyrockets. 99.5% to 99.9% is an almost vertical line. Not surprising since the breaks, for all tax units, is half a million dollars at 99%, 815k at 99.5% and then two million for 99.9%.
  • The 2011 poverty level [5] is at $10,890 for an individual, which puts 27-28% of single filers under the poverty line.
  • Half of all tax payers earn less than $42,437.
  • The first 3% of single filing tax payers earned no income.
  • The income breaks for MFJ are always bigger than two times the levels for single filers (and even all tax units).
  • Earning six figures puts you in the top 19%% of all tax units, the top 5% of single filers, and just the top 32% of married filing jointly.
  • To give you an idea how much money the 99.9% folks make, it would take 13.4 years for a taxpayer in the 90th percentile of all tax units to earn the same amount (dollar value for the 99.9 divided by the dollar value for 90). The other ratios are 11.65 years for single filers, 15.68 years for married filing jointly, and a mere 7.89 years for head of households.

Finally, check out this average effective federal tax rate [6] chart that lists the tax rates on the various income groups and filing statuses. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions (again, this data is based on their microsimulation model).


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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/2011-income-percentiles.html

[3] Income Breaks: http://taxpolicycenter.org/numbers/displayatab.cfm?DocID=2970

[4] charts they have for 2011: http://taxpolicycenter.org/numbers/listdocs.cfm?topic3id=160&DocTypeID=2

[5] 2011 poverty level: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

[6] average effective federal tax rate: http://taxpolicycenter.org/numbers/displayatab.cfm?DocID=2990&topic2ID=150&topic3ID=160&DocTypeID=2

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