Effective Federal Tax Rates, 1979-2001


Just in time for tax filing deadlines comes some fascinating data from the Congressional Budget Office about "effective federal tax rates" (that is, guesstimates of how much people pay in "income taxes, corporate income taxes, payroll taxes, and excise taxes--as well as the total effective rate for the four taxes combined").

Go here for charts that break it down in many different ways.

Some quick highlights: The top 1 percent of taxpayers had an effective federal tax rate of 37 percent in 1979 and 33 percent in 2001 and the top 20 percent of taxpayers came in at 27.5 percent and 26.8 percent over the same time frame.

The bottom income quintile effective tax rates dropped from 8 percent in '79 to 5.4 percent in 2001 and the middle-income quintile saw its rate go from 18.6 percent to 15.2 percent.

Overall, the total effective federal tax rate dropped from 22.2 percent to 21.5 percent between 1979 to 2001, after peaking at 23.1 percent in 2000.

When looking at only federal income tax rates, here are some relevant numbers. In 1979, the top 1 percent of income earners paid a rate of 21.8 percent; in 2001, that figure was 24.1 percent. The highest years in this timespan were 1996 and 2000, during which the super-rich had a 24.2 percent rate.

The top income quintile rate over the same time frame climbed from 15.7 percent to 16.3 percent, while the average effective rate for all taxpayers declined from 11 percent to 10.4 percent. And those in the lowest income quintile went from an effective rate of 0 percent in 1979 to -5.6 percent.