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The Great Recession: The Rich Got Poorer

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U.S. taxpayers with ultra-high incomes took the biggest hit during the first year of the recent economic crisis, according to an analysis of 2008 tax statistics.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released 2008 individual income tax return data.

A comparison with the 2007 individual income tax return data shows that the 142 million Americans who filed individual returns in 2008 reported an average of $58,005 in adjusted gross income each, down 4.5% from the 2007 average.

The percentage of participants who reported no adjusted increase income increased to 1.8%, from 1.3%.

Average adjusted gross income increased a little for taxpayers in most income categories between 2007 and 2008, and the percentage of all filers except for the “no income” category was roughly the same in 2007 and 2008.

But the average adjusted gross income of taxpayers in the $10 million-and-up income category fell 2.8%, largely because of a sharp drop in capital gains income.

Average income from salaries and wages increased 2.9%, to $49,763 in 2008, but total net income from businesses and professional firms fell 5.5%, to $264 billion.

The downturn was especially hard on individual filers who reported $5,000 to $100,000 in business or professional practice net income, and average net income was down more than 10% for individuals with $30,000 to $100,000 in business or professional practice income.


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