The sweeping demographic changes in America over the last half-century are strikingly evident in the changes in the status of federal income tax filers.
In 1960, 65.2 percent of taxpayers were married, filing jointly or separately, and 34.8 percent were single filers or unmarried heads of households.
Fifty years later in 2010 — the most recent year analyzed on the IRS website — 61 percent of filers were single and just 39 percent were married.
Back in 1960, married couples were the majority in every income quintile except the lowest. In the middle quintile, comprising “middle-income” taxpayers, 68 percent of filers were married and 32 percent were single, the Tax Foundation disclosed.
In 2010, however, singles accounted for 68 percent of middle quintile filers, while married couples accounted for 32 percent. Singles also dominated the first and second quintiles.
Other IRS facts uncovered by the Tax Foundation include:
- Among 67 percent of married couples, both spouses are working, up from 47 percent in 1965, and the percentage of sole-earner couples has fallen from 40 percent to 27 percent.
- The number of millionaire tax returns fluctuates wildly from year to year, due mostly to changes in the business cycle. In 2007, there were 392,220 millionaire returns, but just 168,977 in 2002, and 236,883 in 2009.
- Many people become millionaires as a result of a one-time event such as the sale of stocks or a business. Between 1999 and 2009, 50 percent of millionaire filers were millionaires for only one year; 4.4 percent filed million-dollar returns five times in that period, while 5.6 percent filed nine times.
- 33 percent of millionaire taxpayers are 45 to 55 years old, 28 percent are 55 to 65, and 18 percent are over 65. Just 0.3 percent are 18 to 26 years old, and 3 percent are 26 to 35.