Data Tracker

California's top 1 percent sees huge income boost

By Phillip Reese -

The 150,000 California taxpayers in the top 1 percent of California earners made more money in 2012 than the roughly 10 million taxpayers at the bottom, according to a Bee analysis of new figures from the state Franchise Tax Board.

It took a household income of more than $500,000 to make it into the "1 percent." The number of households making that much rose about 25 percent from 2011 to 2012. (The share of Californians at the very top of the income scale grew again in 2013, separate census data show.)

The annual income of California's top 1 percent could pay the collective salaries of the nation's 3 million public school teachers and its 1.5 million college professors.

The median household income for all Californians fell slightly from 2011 to 2012, after adjusting for inflation. (It rose slightly in 2013, census figures show, but remains well below pre-recession levels.)

Most earnings for the top 1 percent come from investment proceeds; the stock market has risen steadily since mid-2011. Since the state taxes the income of the rich at a disproportionate rate, their good fortune has also helped fill the state's coffers.

This chart shows the amount of income earned by California taxpayers in 2012, broken down by percentile.

Source: Bee analysis of Franchise Tax Board gross adjusted income data | The Bee converted 55 income groups into 100 based on the percentage of taxpayers in each income group. | Numbers rounded to nearest billion.