NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 29, 2008

One of the most exclusive clubs in the United States has picked up more members.  About 47,000 people had a net worth of $20 million or more in 2004, the latest available year, according to new estimates by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  While that was up only slightly from 46,000 in 2001, it was up 62 percent from 29,000 in 1998.

The IRS also reported increases in the number of people with a net worth between $10 million and $20 million: 79,000 people qualified for this group in 2004, up from 77,000 in 2001 and 51,000 in 1998.  California had the largest number of residents with a net worth of $1.5 million or more, with 428,000 in 2004.  Florida came in second with 199,000, followed by New York (168,000), Texas (108,000), Illinois (101,000), Pennsylvania (86,000) and Massachusetts (83,000).

Among the findings in the latest report (which isn't adjusted for inflation):

  • The total net worth of the 47,000 people in the $20 million or more category totaled $2.591 trillion in 2004. That was down from $2.756 trillion held by the top group in 2001 but up sharply from the approximately $1.5 trillion held by those in the top group in 1998.
  • About 231,000 people had a net worth between $5 million and $10 million in 2004. That was slightly down from 243,000 in 2001.
  • Of the total income for the $20 million or more group, the biggest single asset category by far was publicly traded stock ($719.28 billion); in second place, was closely held stock.

However, the IRS figures underscore the importance of stock and other business assets for those in the highest echelons of the super rich, says the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Source: Tom Herman, "The Ranks of the Ultrawealthy Grow," Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2008; based upon data collected by the Internal Revenue Service for 2004.

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