Are You a One-Percenter? September 4, 2019

We constantly hear from the media about the “one-percenters,” those Americans who report the top 1% of income. Sometimes we hear about how good the “one-percenters” are for our economy and job creation and sometimes we hear about the harm they cause to our environment and society. 

Western CPE tax alert

What does it take to be in the top 1%?

No matter your opinion on which is right, do you want to know if you are a “one-percenter?”

Let’s see how rarified the air is for the “rich” and how much income you need to be in the 1% of income earners.1

Western CPE tax alert


To be in the top 1% nationally in 2015, income needed to be $480,930. But these are national averages. Of course, the “one-percenters” need higher income in higher cost states and metro areas.2

For states, the highest thresholds were in Connecticut ($700,800), New Jersey ($588,575), Massachusetts ($582,774), New York ($550,174), and California ($514,694).

Thresholds above $1 million are in five metro areas: 

  • Wyoming-Idaho
    • Jackson
  • Connecticut
    • Bridgeport
    • Stamford
    • Norwalk
  • Utah
    • Summit Park
  • California
    • San Jose
    • Sunnyvale
    • Santa Clara
  • Florida
    • Naples
    • Immokalee
    • Marco Island

It takes income above $744,426 to be a one-percenter in New York City and $943,782 in San Francisco.

More Numbers
The average AGI of the top 50% of individual income tax returns was $39,275 and they paid 97.2% of the total individual tax.


  1. The latest statistics from the IRS are for FY 2015 (IRS Report on Individual Income Tax Shares, 2015).
  2. The source for the state and metro area numbers is the Economic Policy Institute’s article on the New Gilded Age.

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