STUDY – Income for Top 1% of Americans Rose 74% From 1996-2006

Growing Income Inequality Examined by CRS:

The inequality of income among American taxpayers has grown markedly in recent years, the Congressional Research Service confirmed in a new study of U.S. tax records.Even as total income grew between 1996 and 2006 (the last year for which individual tax data are available), many Americans were losing ground.“Inflation-adjusted income actually fell for those in the bottom income quintile (the poorest 20% of tax filers) and almost doubled for the richest 0.1% of tax filers,” the CRS found. “Consequently, income inequality increased between 1996 and 2006.”

Bush tax cuts, stock market widen income gap:

The rich have gotten richer, thanks to the stock market and the Bush tax cuts, a recent report has found.

Growth in income from capital gains and dividends has widened the divide between the wealthy and the poor in recent years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. It supplanted wage inequality as the primary driver of the growing income gap, which helped spur the Occupy Wall Street movement last fall.

After-tax income for the top 1% of taxpayers soared 74%, on average, between 1996 and 2006. The top 0.1% benefited even more, nearly doubling their income over that decade.

By comparison, the bottom 20% of taxpayers saw their income fall by 6%, while the middle quintile experienced a meager 10% gain.

But “income” means something very different for the rich than for the poor.

High-income people benefited in particular from the stock market boom in the late 1990s and from companies enjoying strong profit growth and paying out healthy dividends more recently, said Harry Holzer, professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

In 1996, the top 1% of taxpayers relied on wages for 34.4% of their income. A decade later, that number had fallen to just over a quarter, the report found. Meanwhile, income from capital gains and dividends grew by nearly 7.5 percentage points to 38.2% of earnings.

The Bush tax cuts, which lowered rates on both income and capital gains, also helped fuel the growth in income inequality, according to the report. The difference in tax rates paid by the poor and the rich narrowed, with the Top 0.1% of American taxpayers seeing their average tax rate fall by about a quarter.