Aug 14, 2023 - Business

What it takes to be among California's top 1% of earners

Data: SmartAsset; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

You need to make at least $844,266 to be among the top 1% of earners in California, according to a recent SmartAsset analysis of IRS tax filer data.

Driving the news: That's nearly $200,000 more than the national household figure of $652,657.

State of play: The top 1% of U.S. families by wealth held more than a third of the country's total wealth in 2019, the Congressional Budget Office reported last year.

  • Meanwhile, "families in the bottom half ... held only 2% of total wealth" in 2019, per the CBO report.

Zoom in: In the Charles Schwab 2023 Modern Wealth Survey, San Franciscans said that an average net worth of $4.7 million is necessary to be considered wealthy in the Bay Area.

  • Meanwhile, an individual earning less than $104,400 annually is considered low income in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.

The big picture: Nationally, Connecticut's 1% club requires the highest salary ($952,902), while West Virginia's requires the lowest ($367,582).

Yes, but: Connecticut is home to the highest effective tax rate for high earners, at 28.4%. California's is also high at 26.95%.

  • Of course, the ultra-wealthy have myriad means of reducing their actual tax burdens.

The bottom line: The states with the highest 1% floors — Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey and Washington — tend to be either home to or within commuter range of major tech and finance hubs and thus the high-paying jobs those industries offer.


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