Gap between US richest and poorest at its widest in 25 years
The gap between United States richest and poorest is at its widest in 25 years with the wealthiest taking home a record share of the nation's income that exceeds even the previous high in 2000, according to recent data from the Internal Revenue Service, IRS.
The richest 1% of US taxpayers earned 21.2% of all U.S. income earned in 2005. That is a significant increase from 2004 when the top 1% earned 19% of the nation's income. The previous high over the past 25 years, when such data were compiled, was in 2000 when strong stock markets brought the figure up to 20.81%. The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, said the wealthy benefited in 2005 from a healthy, growing economy and higher-than-average price inflation. IRS data included all of the 132.6 million tax returns filed in 2005 with a positive adjusted gross income, or AGI, also including people who did not earn enough to owe taxes. AGI is a figure used to calculate an individual's income tax liability and includes all gross income adjusted by certain allowed deductions, such as moving expenses, health savings account deductions, alimony paid and retirement contributions. In 2005, 90.6 million people who filed tax returns paid taxes into the Treasury, and 42 million with a positive AGI used exemptions, deductions and tax credits to reduce their federal income tax liability to zero U.S. presidential candidates from the opposition Democratic Party have raised the widening income gap as a campaign issue, proposing to raise taxes on the wealthier to help pay for programs that would benefit lower-income families such as a public health scheme. The top 1% of wealthiest US citizens in 2005 was made of taxpayers who had to earn at least 364.657 US dollars annually. That figure is an increase from 2004, when the cut-off point stood at 328.049 US dollars. In 2005, the top 50% US earners brought in 87.17% of the nation's income, also an all-time high for the data available. The previous high for that figure was also in 2000, when the richest 50% earned 87.01% of the income.