America's Income - Who Has It?

Bruce Krasting's picture


America’s tax system and the major social programs (Medicaid and Obamacare) are driven by income. The Social Security Administration has put out a report on income in America. The data covers all wage earners (153.6 million workers and the $6.5 Trillion they earned). The Following is a pic of the report (link), if you’re working, you’re somewhere on this page:




Let’s start at the top of the pile, those that are making the really big bucks. For example, consider the number of people who made $50m in 2012 (the 0.0001%). There are 166 people in this group. Who are these folks? Basketballer Lebron James made the list, so did actors/performers Robert Downey Junior, Beyonce, Cameron Diaz and Christian Bale. From the corporate side we have Disney’s Robert Iger and Apple’s Tim Cooke.




Who are the wealthy in America? Anyone making over a million bucks a year is certainly on the list. The plus $1M set totaled 119,400 people (0.08%). These lucky few earned a total of $170b (3% of all income). How much should these folks be paying in taxes? Let’s go hog wild and nail them with a tax of 90%. The incremental revenue (they already are taxed at 39.6%) would be $85b, but sadly, that only covers five weeks of Social Security benefits.


The IRS defines ‘rich’ as an individual with annual income of $200k ($250k per couple). This income level marks the 1%:


Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 7.50.30 AM


1.6m workers (1% of total) earned $900b (14% of all income). This is the measure of US income inequality. The 1% earn 14% of the pie. If the federal tax rate were increased to 75% (double current), it would increase revenue for Uncle Sam by about $150B. That does not fill a $1 trillion bucket, and it would be an economic disaster to set tax levels at French rates. Bottom line – the notion that taxing the rich is a solution is all wet.


Now consider the bottom. In the case of Medicaid, the cut off for availability is equal to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For a single person the number is $16,600, for a couple it’s $22,000, for a family of four it’s $33,000. The average income for all individuals/families that might qualify for Medicaid is about $25,000. If you look that up on the SS chart you see that a whopping 46% of all income earners can qualify for Medicaid.


poverty #3


And then there is the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). To be eligible for Federal subsidies, one must have an income of less than 400% of FPL. Depending on family size, subsides are available up to $90,000 of income, but the average income where the subsidies are significant is closer to $50K. Again, look up that income level on the SS chart. 73% of all workers make less than $50k! 7out of 10 workers are eligible for subsidies? That blows my mind. No wonder the Democrats love ACA so much - freebies have always translated into votes




So who is left in the middle? There were 41m workers (23% of total) who made more than $50k and less than $250k. This group earned $3.5T (52% of total income). So the middle is where the money is; a quarter of all workers earn half of all income.


If Washington needs more revenue, it must come from the folks in the middle. But the reality is that the middle is already taxed from every direction (they also pay state income taxes, Social Security and other payroll taxes, property and sales taxes. So once again, raising taxes as a way of balancing the nation’s ledger seems to be a very difficult task.



What to make of all these numbers? Something is clearly wrong when 47% of workers earn a poverty level income. Similarly, there is something wrong when 1% of workers earn 14% of all income. The obvious solution is to tax those on the top and transfer it down to the bottom. But that is what we are already doing; more of the same is not going to change the outcome.


My conclusion is that America is not the ‘rich’ country that people think it is. And there ain’t a hell of lot that can be done about that.



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besnook's picture

what is exposed here is the logical result of capitalism. money rises to the top increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. the only solution is a redistribution through .gov to the bottom.....or revolution to redraw the distribution channels. in the absence of .gov redistribution inevitably a revolution will occur.


Tall Tom's picture

Let the top 1% have it all.


I want ObummerCare at this point. To hell with it. Go Red Team...Go Blue Team. 


I am so tired of trying to press on the brake pedal while they are so intent on driving it off of the Cliff.


I am going to do the very best that I can to help them push on the accelerator. I want this whole system to collapse in the ash heap of wreckage at the bottom of that cliff.


I want this SO PAINFUL that nobody for GENERATIONS will ever repeat the insanity. Hopefully it KILLS most of the Zombie Parasites through STARVATION. Hopefully it devolves into a already has, hasn't it?




We need to be working to accelerate this process. The sooner that it fails is the most beneficial for all.

Radical Marijuana's picture

As I am sure Bruce Krasting already knows, and as many of the comments above also pointed out, the difference between "wealth" and "income" is enormous. The point remains that there is not enough income left to tax, to solve any problems in a sufficient way. Generally, we have a fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting system, which is so tangled up and convoluted that it is extremely difficult to unravel that, if not impossible. In that context, I will REPEAT what I consider one of the most IMPORTANT points, (beyond the also important roles of foundations, trusts, and off-shore entities).

There is an ouroboros of incorporated robbery: a growing feedback loop of organizations which have been mandated and powered by governments owning the vast majority of the corporations that those governments originally chartered, and were supposed to be regulating. The current trends are for an incestuous system of professional money managers going through revolving doors between corporations and governments, controlling the governments, that own the corporations, that control those governments ... ... The biggest companies surely follow the pattern to be found in over a hundred thousand American CAFRs, that the majority of the shares of publicly traded companies are collectively owned by entities which got their power to buy them from government. It is like a fire breathing dragon, twirling around faster and faster, chasing its own tail!

It is a surreal social fact that, collectively, governmentally mandated and powered entities currently own almost the entire economy. Ironically "We the People" collectively own by far the vast majority of the wealth, but we collectively are such incompetent political idiots, or Zombie Sheeple, that we do not understand that. Since our society is built upon well-developed systems operated by professional liars and immaculate hypocrites, and almost all of the controlled opposition are the same kinds of people as those who happen to be closer to the real levers of powers, we are like workers operating through rubber gloves, into a sealed room, while watching what we are doing in a mirror, but not then understanding that everything we see in that mirror is backwards.

Due to the worm turning in the ouroboros of incorporated robbery, the fascist plutocracy has outstripped the plutocrats! That Fascist Plutocracy IS NO LONGER BEING CONTROLLED BY THE PEOPLE, OR THEIR DESCENDENTS, THAT ORIGINALLY MADE AND MAINTAINED THOSE SOCIAL SYSTEMS! The FASCIST PLUTOCRACY that started long ago with militarism and patriarchy, etc., made something which is now self-evolving beyond human comprehension and control. We have "money" made out of nothing, as endless frauds, perpetrated by using the powers of We the People against Us! That enables the established systems to simply ignore anything outside of their fraudulent frame-of-reference. All other facts end up interpreted through triumphant frauds in the central social systems, through the endless misrepresentations of lying by omission.


What we have is a big bunch of professional money managers, following each others' ass around in a vast spiral of collective social insanity, where they make decisions on the basis of the numbers which they see upon their computer screens, and indeed, have programmed their computers to make their decisions for them. Since all the financial numbers are based on triumphant runaway frauds, those numbers automatically become more and more nuts! However, nobody inside the circle jerk of the world of professional money managers can get out of their herd. Paradoxically, as above, so below, and as within, so without, while the lies are different at every levels. This kind of article above by Bruce Krasting is correct within its own terms of reference. However, the bigger picture is so STRANGE that almost nobody understands that ... Although the cartoon featured previously in this article attempted to show what it looked like:

Due to the reality being nested toroidal vortices, operating through an overall ouroboros of incorporated robbery, mostly the people have agreed to rob themselves into poverty, while the waterwheels spinning through those flows were engineered and operated by money managers that deliberately did not see the bigger picture, since the systems which they grew up within, and now operate, were sequentially based on one level of force backed frauds being built on top of another! What I take away from this article by Bruce Krasting is that there are NO possible solutions within the frame of reference of fraudulent finance of the currently established systems. However, since there is practically zero chance that enough people will understand the overall ouroboros of incorporated robbery, I can not believe we will understand the flow of energy enough to go with that better, at least not until after the runaway triumphs of force backed fraudulent financial accounting are pushed to continue to eat their own tail, until they molt ???

el Gallinazo's picture


I don't trust the IRS numbers for the top 0.1%.  The whole system is based on fraud.  Catherine Austin Fitts, Housing Commissioner under Bush !, has probably documented this best.  Late on Sep. 10, 2001 Secretary of Aggression Rumsfeld held a news conference where he mentioned in passing that there was 2.3 trillion dollars of unaccounted spending in the DOD budget.  All the records to trace it at the Pentagon were destroyed in a matter of hours along with quite a few accountants.  Wonder where it went?    Maybe like MF Global it just evaporated.  Large sums of federal and corporate money are not constrained by the laws of thermodynamics.  Since I am a dumb sheeple and a coincidence theorist I regard the fact that it was announced hours before the three WTC towers were brought down and all records destroyed as yes .......... an odd coincidence.

kaiserhoff's picture

Good start, Bruce, but most wealthy people get the bulk of their income from passive income, rents, dividends, royalties, or some form of draw from a business, so this is quite misleading, and as others have pointed out, business income goes up and down like a yo yo.  The Urban wage bias is showing.

Also there is an assumption that a dollar in New York is equal to a dollar in Iowa.  Having been to both, it ain't necessarily so.

smartstrike's picture

Thanks Bruce, you just made a case for ACA: 73% will benefit from the plan. What's not to like? The 25% TOP income earners are not my kind of people(Mit get lost, I am not voting for you.)

It's like that know-it-all Karl Denninger, he could not figure out why banks jacked up his credit card fees to 18-30% in 2008-2009 from 3-5%. Well, you just found out who subsidized your low cc fees-the deadbeats. Without opportunity of lending to the deadbeats, banks have to roll you, no more poor to milk.

With health insurance, 45-50 million Americans did not have any insurance....and nobody gave a shit. Obama promised health insurance to the uninsured and he delivered; just so he ended up throwing the entitled middle class under the bus, so be it. Overall there are going to be more insured!

It's a automatic !

the grateful unemployed's picture

for anger and righteousness you get +100, too bad this isn't how it works. the uninsured were always covered, through medicaid, (obamacare actually strengthens that with federal funds to the states) on their way to bankruptcy obamacare makes them pay the insurance companies who will be allowed to unload them on mediciad when they become economically unviable (Falling Down) so the poor become bankrupt BEFORE they actually have a chance to become ill and need more treatment they cannot afford. meanwhile the taxpayers will be coughing up a lot of freebies, screenings for everything. you're fat quit eating, your drunk, quit drinking, or take some expensive medis for depression. your going to be more insured and more broke with obamacare which means youll be on medicaid sooner, which was always there

kaiserhoff's picture

That's my understanding of this evil thing.  The biggest losers are the working poor, who get to pay massively more, and are at greater risk than ever of bankruptcy and losing the few assets they have.  The interplay between medicare and the subsidies seems different in every state with millions of variations of the theme.  Thank god for transparency.

Met a woman today who was scared shitless by this plan.  She was just advised by her insurance broker to change nothing, absolutely nothing or her rates will double or triple.  Poor dear doesn't know that will happen anyway thanks to the adverse sort.  Poverty uber alles.



silverserfer's picture

It nice how all the banker scum that are really  ALWAY at the top of this list but never on it. Rich for the masses list this should be called. When youre really "rich" you become invisible to the media. 

bcecil's picture



Annual capital tax (not capital gains tax) VERY necessary.. The more you got the higher the tax.

bcecil's picture

 World's Capital - who has it

top 300 individuals = bottom 3.5 billion humans

bcecil's picture



America's Capital - who has it?

top 475 individuals = bottom 150,000,000


nuff said

the grateful unemployed's picture

your partisan wrangling may boost your image in the larger blogosphere, but it makes you only slightly less obvious (to the average Low Brow Z hedge reader) than the disingenous MSM. democrats dont win votes by handing out freebies, they win votes by protecting the rights of minorities and workers (to the degree they don't do that very well they lose votes) republicans enjoy crowing about a no welfare state, but they line up at the trough just like everyone else, (and the monied interests get corporate welfare which shames the small amount that goes into a program like SNAP) TARP was the biggest corporate handout in history, and it did zero for anybody but the 1%. there really aren't any limits on medicaid after you have drawn down on your assets to zero. medicaid can then attach your wages. health insurance is asset protection insurance, it has nothing to do with your health, it only concerns your money. obama wants you to give all your money to the insurance companies BEFORE you go on medicaid. posting someones graffiti image eat the rich doesnt square with the meat of you article, which is GOP standardbearer stuff. i am not fooled and i not interested (when you tell me something i already know)

drchris's picture

Getting a subsidy for ACA doesn't necessarily mean that your premium will go down compared to pre-ACA. The graph of subsidy vs income is similar to the 1/x function. It falls very quickly, then slowly approaches 0. That means that many people on the high end get a relatively insignificant subsidy. (Also, something nobody else has seemed to notice is that the actuarials on these plans decrease with income. Meaning, out of pocket on the same grade plan is higher for people with higher incomes.)

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Eat the rich!

If you get indigestion, Obamacare will take care of it ...

NOTaREALmerican's picture

Set some minimum annual income.    Tax those above the median income "enough" to pay the mimimum annual income.

Eliminate all other Federal social programs (the states can do anything they like, it should be up to them anyway).     The income redistribution is done by the IRS,  no "big-idea" people (Krugman's) deciding they need a graft filled Anti Space Alien Defense Shield. 

el Gallinazo's picture

Well no less an insider than SS Major Werner von Braun of Pennemunde and NASA/Apollo fame, reported, with one foot in the grave from cancer, that the ultimate NWO false flag will be a huge alien invasion hoax.  Asshole Krugman is just a utility catcher in the bullpen for our masters.  Interestingly, von Braun reported the penultimate false threat, preceeding this pseudo invasion,  would be asteroid collisions.

zaphod42's picture

There is a real problem with this chart.  It only records earned (wages) income.  What about 'profits'? (e.g. wages stolen from workers by owners) 

Just saying...

Bruce Krasting's picture

Like I said, our system is driven by taxing income, not wealth. The $6.5T of earned income is a big slice of the whole pie, but it is not the whole pie.

the grateful unemployed's picture

our system is driven by stealing wealth and not taxing (corporate) income. i once said to a friend who was complaining he paid half his salary in taxes, suppose that money came off the top, you never saw it, and you didn't have to pay any taxes, you just made half as much as you do now. he seemed okay with that idea

disabledvet's picture

exactly. in a financial bubble "Wall Street owns the Government." this has nothing to do with "rich versus poor" but "financed" versus "monetized." once QE is dropped (and I think it will be shortly) the separation between "the funny money people" and "corportists" will become readily apparent. Wall Streeter's are minting money right now because they have access to inside information and get to trade on that "without penalty." the best the rest of us can do is either buy into it (buy stocks) or "set up our own New Normal" (an "independent Texas for example.) if I were China and Russia that's how I would be "dealing" with this problem anyways. in the meantime the purpose of the massive tax revenues now flooding into to Treasury is to create more tax "abatements" to further corporate growth. in no way ami recommending go hog wild into equities right here btw. definition "they have the informational advantage." having said that the USA is now producing far more than mere "rich people." if you're hooked with the right employer you're minting money...and I'm not talking the Government...not that those are bad jobs either.

Count de Money's picture

Wait a minute. I give you a place to work, the tools you need to do what I hired you for, and a salary on top of all that and I'm stealing from you? All because I want a little something for all the effort I went through to give you a job? You're fired.

zaphod42's picture

More likely you inherited your shares, and didn't have a thing to do with intial capitalization of the corporate entity.  Or else you are a C-level Exec and get stock bonuses that steal from the people who actually contributed to that intiial capitalization through excessive dillution! 

Hope you don't mind if I 'poke' you into thinking more deeply about what is going on.  Gross distortion of relative economics levels has never signalled anything good.  Even for the uber riche.



disabledvet's picture

exactly. the "smart money" in USA Inc is hiring right now and paying "in excess of the liveable wage." forget competing with the the alternative and see how many more of "your people" will start buying "your product." why are there lobbyists again?

Sun and Moon's picture

I suspect the the 1% is mostly made up of physicians, attorneys, executives and investment bankers like Bruce.

It doesn't necessarily strike me as wrong that someone who spent many years getting through medical school and internship, followed by more years of specialized training and who might save hundreds of lives during a career should make 10X more than a clerk in Walmart.

Of course, we would probably be better off without the attorneys, executives, and investment bankers. But these groups basically control the government, so looking for the government to get solve that problem is basically futile.

If you wanted to reduce poverty in the USA, why not try really cracking down on illegals by implementing employer sanctions with a generous reward program for people who turn in people who employ illegals?

Bruce Krasting's picture

Bruce has not been an investment banker since 1995. I'm Old School...

11b40's picture

You can take the banker out of the bank, but you can't take the bank out of the banker.

I like a lot of your articles, Bruce, but you will never convince me you are not still a banker at heart.  Often, our perspectives are not alinged.....and I am not now, nor have I ever been, a banker.

SAT 800's picture

No, no. you don't understand. No one WANTS to fix this problem. the reason we have to have lots and lots of illegals is so that your wages never increase. You forgot the Mulitnational Corporate Overlords are the 'Ruling Class.

Stuck on Zero's picture

The solution?  Shrink government to 1/4 of its current size.  Cut the number of Federal laws by 90%.  Put 50% tariffs on everything.  Many of the problems would go away.


NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re: Put 50% tariffs on everything.

That's more government.   

Most laws exists because somebody with lots of money wanted a law which would give them an advantage.  

We've got the only system possible.    The bottom 80% aren't starving, which keeps the top 20% happy because they aren't staving in front of the restaurants frequented by the top 20%.  

The current system is working fine, which is why nobody really is demand it be changed.

NickVegas's picture

Tariffs kill the slave labor market. They want slaves to service the American markets, because it offers the highest margin. Maybe I state the obvious. Tariffs prevent that labor force from growing, and are a real barrier to market entry from foreign entities.

It would force high tech production back home because the US of A can't provide enough unarmed slave labor for their needs, so the answer is high tech, robots and computers. That seems like as a soft a landing as I can see. Lot's of highly educated high tech workers working high tech to do low tech, and high tech to do high tech, supplyings America's needs.

Granted, we can have slaves do it overseas, but I would rather it be done here, as close to the population as possible, using high tech. Same thing with food supply, but that is a funny inside joke too.


El Vaquero's picture

90% of the federal laws?  Dude, there's something like 200,000 pages of law in the USC alone, and that doesn't even get into the CFR. 

Orwell was right's picture

Useless Chart......   Measuring "net income" as accumulated by the IRS doesn't say enough about wealth, holdings, or total income.   I agree the system  is badly broken, but this chart alone doesn't paint the picture.

monad's picture

Add a "tax rate" column and watch it burn...

Obnoxio's picture

Governments should not be allowed to go into debt as that is the root of our problems. There is no force large enough to restrict government spending if debt is allowed. Government will tax us into oblivion and will never pay off the debt.

SAT 800's picture

Yep. There might be a Government somewhere, sometime, that didn't do this; but no one has any reliable rumor as to when or where it existed. The problem is Government; in other words the aggregation of power in the hands of the few; which form a mob and attack the many. it seems to human nature.

Boston's picture

If Washington needs more revenue, it must come from the folks in the middle.


It can also come from corporations.........

Bob Sacamano's picture

For the 1,001st time, corporations do not pay taxes. They remit taxes on behalf of the corporation's customers and shareholders (100% of which are ultimately individuals). ONLY individuals actually pay taxes.

AGuy's picture

"For the 1,001st time, corporations do not pay taxes."

Not exactly, since there is a 35% Federal Tax on Corp Profits + State and local taxes. Corporations pay a lot in sales taxes and property taxes. Corps. also pay half of the payroll tax as well as State/Fed unemployment tax. When Companies pay dividends they are subject to the Fed/State income taxes. so if a company decides to pay $100 out as dividends, the Gov't gets $35 from the company and the person/business recieving the dividend payment (of the remaining $65) they pay the capital gains tax.

If there was no corp tax, then many more corps. would re-invest it in the US, instead of building factories overseas. Plus I am a firm believer that a dollar sent to washington is a dollar lost (mal-investments, corruption, fraud, etc). Despite widespread believe that the gov't uses tax revunue to help the needy and poor, its not true. If it was, then the poor would need to rely on charity. About half of the Federal budget pays for Wealthfare and entitlements, yet the poor just keep on getting poor, as the Gov't use the Wealthfare/entitlment system to enrich cronies and feeds a massive fraud empire.


NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  If it was, then the poor would need to rely on charity.

Ever notice how many assholes there are in the world?

The reason we've got social programs is because a few hundred years ago the assholes (like the guy I see in the mirror every morning) really didn't give all the much to "charities".  And the assholes who run charities have a way of being assholes when it comes to running them.

AGuy's picture

"The reason we've got social programs is because a few hundred years ago the assholes..."

Yes, but involutary donations to the Gov't usually end up lining the pockets of gov't cronies. The Poor people get trapped dependant on crappy wealthfare. My point was, if Gov't wealthfare was so great with the Trillions pumped in, why are there any charities in business today? They still exists because Gov't Wealthfare is broken. The politicans make promises but never deliver, except to themselves and cronies. One prime Example: JPM and the Debt card scam, that charges a significant service fees for every transaction. JPM makes tens of millions every year on this scam.

Count de Money's picture

You're missing his point. All the taxes you mention are ultimately paid by the consumer because all those are built into the price of whatever is being sold.

InflammatoryResponse's picture

Count you're exactlyli right.  he is missing the point.


all costs are borne by the customer, all taxes are paid by the owners.


ever notice how when your local cable company's taxes/fees go up becasue the local gov figures that's an easy place to get money?  they just pass that new cost to the subscribers.



SAT 800's picture

I sometimes try to explain it by pointing out that "Corporations" cannot print money; therefore, whatever losses they sustain to the Federal and State Beasts will be made up by YOU. but it doesn't work; it's an emotionally attractive idea, and that's as far as the North American citizens brain extends; the emotional part. Thinking; not so much.

Carl Popper's picture

Sigh. I tried to explain it with the use of FICA taxes as an example. Some people lack basic economic sense

NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re: Some people lack basic economic sense

The "you can't tax corporation" people are forgetting Corporate Bling tho.

If my corporation is paying for my private jet and high-end hookers that's "income" for the scum looting the "stockholders".

How about for public corporations (ie, those organizations designed to allow upper management unlimited screwing potental) we tax operating income. 

Count de Money's picture

You have a choice over whether or not you, as a shareholder, want to be an owner of a corporation "paying for my private jet and high-end hookers". You can't be looted if you're not a shareholder.

Miss anthrope's picture



InflammatoryResponse's picture

Lucent posting?  about the company?  do they even exist any more?


oh  y ou probably meatn lucid.  my bad :)