Your Average American Earning $200,000+

News from the desk of Ron Wilburn, CPA

IRS Reveals How “High Income” Earners Pay No Tax


The IRS “Statistics of Income” Division last release for high-income tax returns was SOI Bulletin Spring 2012. While we don’t expect it to challenge the latest John Grisham thriller on the bestseller list, the Bulletin actually appeals to an even bigger audience – anyone who wants to pay less tax!

The big news in this issue was this: in 2009, 3,924,489 Americans reported “adjusted gross incomes” of $200,000 or more. 20,752 of them paid zero federal income tax. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Paying no tax is hardly remarkable. According to the Washington-based Tax Policy Center, this year 47% of Americans will pay no federal income tax. That’s because their income is so low, or because they qualify for enough exemptions, deductions, and credits to eliminate any liability. But making $200,000 and paying no tax – now, that’s an accomplishment. How did they do it?

According to the IRS, here are the items that produced the largest tax effects on high-income returns:

Interest paid (including mortgage interest and investment interest)
Taxes paid
Charitable contributions
Casualty and theft losses
Partnership and “S corporation” losses
Tax-exempt interest
You probably don’t want to count on “casualty and theft losses” to bail yourself out of a big tax bill. But you can count on one thing. Very few of those 20,752 lucky winners sat down to file their taxes and discovered their zero tax bill by surprise. Almost all of them did it through careful planning.

Do we sound like a broken record with the “P” word? Sorry, but that’s just too bad. Planning really is the key to minimizing your taxes. So, while we can’t promise planning will eliminate your tax entirely, we can tell you it gives you your best shot.

Are your friends, family, or colleagues grumbling about unhappy April 15 surprises? You can be a hero by helping them avoid those surprises. Let them know that we can help, with the right plan and the right concepts and strategies for them. And if you don’t have a plan of your own . . . well, you know where to find us!

Follow us on Twitter at @WilburnCPA and let us know how we’re doing.

Thanks for a great year.


Ron Wilburn
Wilburn CPA


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