If personal income taxes were eliminated entirely for anyone with less than $1,000,000 income, there is one flat tax rate for those who are taxed, and corporate income taxes and all other taxes staued the same, what would the income tax rate for people with over a million dollar of annual income have to be for there to be no drop in tax revenue? I'm mostly interested in statistics for the US federal government, but answers for individual states would also be interesting.


3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: These are very rough estimates and I'm not an expert on taxes. And there can be relevant hidden variables like tax deductions, reduction of income and income that is not subject to income tax and so on.

The total yearly income tax collected is about $2.35 trillion and there are about 1-2 million people in the 1% who make on average 1.4 million dollars in income and their tax rate is ~32%. So, 1.5 million people * 1.4 million dollars * 32% = $670 billion.

So, if you raise their tax rate to 100%, they'd almost be able to carry the tax load alone ($2.1 trillion). So not enough to be feasible right now but the inequality in the U.S. is already staggeringly close to that. Also, if you double their tax rate, they could cover more than half of the current tax income (from income tax) and they'd still be between the top 2% and top 5% of (gross) income earners.

Also, just out of curiosity if you go down to $300k (top 10%) and a tax rate of 50% you'd already be able to net ~$2.25 trillion, so close to the budget, and they'd still have $150k left (closer to the top 25%).

Again, these are very rough estimates and I'm not an expert so take them with a grain of salt.

  • 5
    Does this include all income? Like not only from work but also investments? Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 12:52
  • Downvoted for ignoring Laffer effect - if you tax something too much it will either cease to exist or move to another country, resulting in zero tax revenue.
    – bobflux
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 23:14
  • @bobflux Writing that the tax rate would have to be 100% certainly does not ignore the Laffer effect. It strongly implies it. If (if only!) I was making that much money and suddenly started to be taxed at 100%, I would either move to some other country or would stop working for the rest of the year. I would not be alone. Problem solved! Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 13:13

If only people with at least $1,000,000 annual income were taxed, what would their tax rate have to be to avoid a drop in income tax revenue?

The tax rate would be close to or over 100%, as shown in the answer by haxor789. "Tax the rich, feed the poor, 'Til there are no rich no more." The rich would simply move their wealth, their companies, and themselves to other countries. If this was a strict cutoff, people would either simply stop working (and stop contributing to society) once their annual income reached $999999 -- or they would leave. If this was a marginal rate that kicked in at 100% of income over one million pear year, they would similarly stop working at $999999, or they would leave. Tax revenues would drop to near zero.

I understand that some people love to hate the rich. But society needs them, at least to some extent. The extent to which they are needed is debatable, but they are needed as engines of societal improvements. How much they should be taxed is debatable. Whether they are currently taxed too much or too little is debatable. But trying to shift all of the taxation burden onto only the rich is highly counterproductive. It not only won't work, but doing so would be highly detrimental to society. If this is done, society will inevitably collapse (e.g., the collapse of the USSR). What one will find is that the people who desired to be rich had found ways to be hiding in plain sight, only to come out as oligarchs after the collapse.

  • 5
    Tax the rich is pretty valid when the rich do not pay their fair share though. We can debate what is fair, but for me, the current inequality in the US is not. There are countries with way higher taxes and way less inequality, and the rich are not leaving in droves. Pointing to the extreme of communism is a bit of a scare tactic.
    – HolKann
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 11:52
  • You dont give any source or calculation for your claim of 100%. This is an opinion piece, not an answer.
    – whoisit
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 12:31
  • 1
    @whoisit That's the analysis of the other answer (to which I now linked), and it's correct. This severe of a cutoff cannot and will not work. Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 12:37
  • 1
    @HolKann So what does "their fair share" mean? As I wrote, this is debatable. It cannot be 100%. To some extent, society need people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and people like those who got wealthy coming up with vaccines against COVID-19. How much should they be taxed? It's certainly not 100%, but also it's certainly not near zero (a certain former President comes to mind). Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 12:42
  • 2
    I mean a 100% tax rate is obviously nonsense, either way there needs to be something left. That being said the "when rich people are taxed too much they just leave"-argument is also not great as the ability to accumulate excess income to the tune of millions and more is what makes that feasible in the first place. But that's an international problem that people and companies can make money at a place and pay little to no taxes somewhere else. And lastly politicians often make policies for the taxpayer so having that be only 1% is not great from a democracy standpoint.
    – haxor789
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 13:40

According to the federal reserve , Q1 of 2020 the top 1% was worth $30.2T. One year later, Q1 2021 they were worth $40.84T, so in that year they collectively made $10.64T. The federal income taxes that year collected $3.46T.

$3.46T / $10.64T = 32.5% replacement rate

Of course, the rich don't really get "income" of the kind most of us know and understand, which makes it confusing how one can be much wealthier year-on-year yet still have a modest taxable income.

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