NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Millionaires Go Missing

August 22, 2011

In 2007, 390,000 tax filers reported adjusted gross income of $1 million or more and paid $309 billion in taxes.  In 2009, there were only 237,000 such filers, a decline of 39 percent.  Almost four of 10 millionaires vanished in two years, and the total taxes they paid in 2009 declined to $178 billion, a drop of 42 percent, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • Those with $10 million or more in reported income fell to 8,274 from 18,394 in 2007, a 55 percent drop. As a result, their tax payments tanked by 51 percent.
  • These disappearing millionaires go a long way toward explaining why federal tax revenues have sunk to 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in recent years.
  • The loss of millionaires accounts for at least $130 billion of the higher federal budget deficit in 2009.

But the millionaires who are left still pay a mountain of tax.

  • Those who make $1 million accounted for about 0.2 percent of all tax returns but paid 20.4 percent of income taxes in 2009.
  • Those with adjusted gross income above $200,000 a year were just under 3 percent of tax filers but paid 50.1 percent of the $866 billion in total personal income taxes.
  • Before the recession, the $200,000 income group paid 54.5 percent of the income tax.
  • This means the top 3 percent paid more than the bottom 97 percent, yet the 3 percent are the people that President Obama claims don't pay their fair share.

Source: "Millionaires Go Missing," Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2011.

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