The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has published a report of preliminary tax data from 2010 individual income tax returns (PDF) and on average, the adjusted gross income (AGI) of taxpayers increased by 5.2 percent. Unfortunately for most Americans, the increase in income was just another example of the rich getting richer.


Net capital gains increased by 33.1 percent but salaries and wages only increased by 2.1 percent. Sure, individuals making under $200,000 a year can have net capital gains but it is fairly safe to say that those in the highest tax brackets realized the bulk of that increase.


Although the IRS data doesn’t specifically break down the increase by income levels, analysts did. According to their findings, “Taxpayers earning more than $250,000 saw their total adjusted gross incomes rise by 13.8%, while those bringing home between $200K and $250K enjoyed a 6.7% increase.” The article goes on to explain that families earning between $50,000 and $100,000 a year only saw a 1.5 percent increase in income, not nearly enough to keep up with the rising cost of living.


When looking at the raw IRS data, the number of returns and AGI by income level really caught my eye. In 2010, the IRS received nearly 37.5 million returns with an AGI of less than $15,000. The total AGI reported by all 37.5 million returns was $126.6 billion.


At the other end of the table are tax returns with an annual income of $250,000 or more. In 2010, the IRS received just over 2.7 million returns with this income level but the total AGI of these returns was over $1.8 trillion. Now that is a lot of money.


If you’re a tax nerd like I am, you’ll find the data quite interesting. You can download a copy from the IRS website for free, all you need is Adobe Acrobat Reader: Individual Income Tax Returns, Preliminary Data, 2010.

Incomes are on the rise
New IRS data reveals that the nation's average income increased by 5.2% between 2009 and 2010, but the devil is in the details.