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Tax Prep & Filing

Where Do You Rank as a Taxpayer?

Hillary Clinton paid millions in federal income tax last year. Donald Trump might have paid $0 for many, many years. You probably fall somewhere in between. This special tool shows where you stand.

Courtesy Paula R. Lively (Clinton) and Gage Skidmore (Trump) via Flickr/Creative Commons

Federal income taxes always play a big role in presidential campaigns. Usually, it’s because each candidate has plans to change the rules in ways that would help some taxpayers and cause others pain in the pocketbook. This year, though, it’s much more personal.

The question getting the lion’s share of attention is whether Donald Trump pays federal income taxes at all and, if not, whether that makes him smart, as he says, or unpatriotic, as Hillary Clinton suggests.

SLIDE SHOW: 9 Tax Breaks for the Middle Class

We don’t know how much, if any, federal income tax Donald Trump pays because he famously refuses to release his tax returns. The few pages of his 1995 state tax returns that were leaked to the New York Times (and that he does not dispute as inaccurate) show that he reported a near $1 billion loss for the year and a federal adjusted gross income of negative $915,729,293. Because the law permits such losses to be carried back two years and forward for as many as 15, it’s possible that the loss wiped out the candidate’s federal income tax bill for as many as 18 years.

If Trump did zero out his federal income tax bill, he has a lot of company. You may recall the firestorm set off four years ago when Mitt Romney cited the statistic that 47% of Americans don’t pay income taxes and said that that group would vote for President Obama “no matter what.” Well, that 47% is now down to 43%, according to the Tax Policy Center. And, Donald Trump may be among them.

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At the other end of the spectrum, Hillary Clinton’s 2015 tax return shows that she and husband Bill reported adjusted gross income of $10,594,529 and paid $3,624,455 in federal income taxes.

So, how do Clinton’s and Trump’s tax burden compare with the citizens of the nation they want to lead? And, no matter how “rich” or “poor” or “middle class” you are, are you bearing your “fair share” of the nation's tax burden? Do you have the faintest idea what portion you pay now . . . beyond a gnawing feeling that it’s too darn much?

To help answer such questions, we created a tool to show how the nation's taxable income and the country's federal income tax bill are distributed among its citizens. Our tool uses the latest IRS data to shine a bright light into what are too often murky shadows.

We’ll also show you how your own income stacks up with that of your fellow Americans.

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Are you ready to see where you fit in? With our simple calculator, enter a single number from your latest tax return, and you’ll instantly know the answer.

CALCULATOR: See How Your Income, Tax Burden Stack Up

When we plugged in Hillary Clinton’s number into the calculator, here’s what we learned:

  • Her $10,594,529 adjusted gross income (AGI) puts her in the top 1% of earners.
  • The top-earning 1% of taxpayers reported 19.0% of all AGI and paid 37.8% of total income taxes.
  • Together, she and the other 1.4 million taxpayers with incomes of $428,713 or more paid a total of $466 billion in federal income taxes.

Unfortunately, our calculator can’t handle negative numbers such as the nine-digit one on that leaked 1995 return, but we used the smallest positive one, $1, for Donald Trump. Here’s the result:

  • His $1 adjusted gross income (AGI) puts him in the lowest 50% of earners.
  • The lowest-earning 50% of taxpayers reported 11.5% of all AGI and paid 2.8% of total income taxes.
  • Together, he and the other 69.2 million taxpayers with incomes of $36,841 or less paid a total of $34 million in federal income taxes. This includes millions of low-income workers who actually paid negative income taxes because their Earned Income Tax Credits wiped out their income-tax liability and refunded to them part of the Social Security taxes they paid.

Use our calculator now to see where you fit in.

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CALCULATOR: See How Your Income, Tax Burden Stack Up

A look at the big picture

The latest numbers from the IRS—based data from 2013 tax returns—show what it takes to be among the top 1% of income earners: At least $428,713 of adjusted gross income. That’s about $6,000 less than it took to buy into this rarified status a year earlier. The 1.4 million Americans with this elite status reported 19% of the total adjusted gross income reported on 2013 returns.

That's right. One percent of taxpayers reported 19% of all income. And that same tiny group kicked in 38% of all the federal income taxes paid.

How much do you need to make to be in the top 50% of earners? Just $36,841.

Fall below that level, and you are in the bottom half, along with about 69 million of your fellow taxpayers. All told, that group earned just 11.5% of the AGI reported on 2013 federal returns. And they paid 2.78% of all the income taxes paid.

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Use our calculator to see if you’re in the top 1%, 5%, 10%, 25%, 50% . . . or bottom 50% of income earners.

Our income and tax-burden breakdowns come from information reported on 2013 individual income tax returns. Income categories are based on adjusted gross income, which is basically income from taxable sources minus certain deductions—including deductible contributions to IRA, alimony paid and student loan interest—but before subtracting the value of exemptions and either the standard or itemized deductions.

QUIZ: Is It Tax-Deductible?

(Note that these figures include only federal income taxes. According to one study, more than half of all wage earners pay more in Social Security and Medicare taxes than they do income tax. The percentage of those paying more of these payroll taxes than income tax soars to nearly 90% if you count both the employer and employee share of those levies.)

Income Category 2013 AGI Percent of
All Income
Percent of
Income Taxes Paid
Top 1%Over $428,71219.0%37.8%
Top 5%Over $179,75934.4%58.6%
Top 10%Over $127,69445.9%69.8%
Top 25%Over $74,95468.1%86.3%
Top 50%Over $36,84088.5%97.2%
Bottom 50%Over $36,84011.5%2.8%