Back in the winter Season of 1872-73 Caroline Astor and social arbiter Ward McAllister began putting together the list that became, by the time of the 1892 season, "The 400".
Now the IRS does it for us.
From the Internal Revenue Service:
As far as I know the writer of the piece below is the only Pulitzer Prize winner to have won with the U.S. tax code as his subject.
This release contains four tables which contain information from the Top 400 Individual Income Tax Returns for each of Tax Years 1992 through 2009. Table 1 contains frequencies, money amounts, and average dollar amounts for the major income, deduction, and tax credits reported as part of the Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return). Table 2 shows ranges of marginal tax rate for the various statutory rates (including the alternative minimum tax rates) that were in effect for Tax Years 1992 through 2009 while Table 3 shows the range of average tax rates up to 35 percent and over, computed as total income tax divided by adjusted gross income.
The data in Tables 1–3 are based on the individual returns with the largest adjusted gross income reported each specific year shown and do not necessarily reflect the same taxpayers over the 18-year time period reflected. Therefore, Table 4 is available to present the number of times an individual return appeared among the 400 largest adjusted gross incomes for each of tax years 1992 through 2009.
2009 Update (.pdf)
2008 Update 2007 Update 2006 Update
The 400 Individual Income Tax Returns Reporting the Highest Adjusted Gross Income Each Year, 1992–2000
Data Release by Michael Parisi and Michael Strudler, SOI
Return to Tax Stats home page
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: June 06, 2012
Six American families paid no federal income taxes in 2009 while making something on the order of $200 million each. This is one of many stunning revelations in new IRS data that deserves a thorough airing in this year’s election campaign.
The data, posted on the IRS website last week, brings into sharp focus the debate over whether the rich need more tax cuts (Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans) or should pay higher rates (President Obama and most Democrats).
The annual report, which the IRS typically releases with a two-year delay, covers the 400 tax returns reporting the highest incomes in 2009. These families reported an average income of $202.4 million, down for the second year as the Great Recession slashed their capital gains.
In addition to the six who paid no tax, another 110 families paid 15 percent or less in federal income taxes. That’s the same federal tax rate as a single worker who made $61,500 in 2009.
Overall, the top 400 paid an average income tax rate of 19.9 percent, the same rate paid by a single worker who made $110,000 in 2009. The top 400 earned five times that much every day.
Just 82 of the top 400 were taxed in accord with the Buffett rule, which proposes a minimum tax of 30 percent on annual incomes greater than $1 million....MORE