Aug 10, 2023 - News

What it takes to be in the top 1% in Washington state

Minimum income needed to be in the top 1%<br> of earners
Data: SmartAsset; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

You need to make at least $804,853 to be among the top 1% of earners in Washington state, according to a recent SmartAsset analysis of IRS tax filer data.

  • That's more than $150,000 more than the national household figure of $652,657.
  • And it's more than seven times the median household income in Seattle, which surpassed $110,000 in 2021.

The big picture: The top 1% of wealthy U.S. families 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 out: Nationally, joining the 1% club is most expensive in Connecticut, where residents need to make at least $952,902 to be a member.

  • It's cheapest in West Virginia, where residents need to make $367,582 to be among the state's top earners.

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

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

Zoom in: Washington has some high earners who are likely pushing up the state's numbers. It's home to two of the world's 10 most wealthy billionaires, according to Forbes.

Plus: As of 2021, two of the three highest-paid CEOs on the S&P 500 were with Seattle-based companies.

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


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