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From Personal Income to Taxable Income, 1950-2004

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Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher(s): Tax Policy Center

Author(s): Adam Carasso; C. Eugene Steuerle

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Banking and finance (Taxation and tax policy)

Keywords: Taxes, the Budget, and the Economy; General Tax Policy; Taxation of Households; Distribution of Taxes and Income

Type: Report


While much of the tax debate usually swirls around statutory tax rates, those rates must be applied to a base. The tax base can be approximated by the amount of taxable income that is reported on taxable returns. This article examines changes in the fraction of Americans' personal income subject to tax from 1950 to 2004 and the factors that explain these changes over time.