The vast majority ended up owing U.S. income tax. Roughly 1.8 million paid between 15% and 20% of their income in taxes. Nearly 1.5 million paid between 20% and 25%. And about 900,000 paid more than 25%. Most Americans' effective tax rates are well below 15%.
But because AGI doesn't cover all income, the 19,563 returns don't reflect all high-income households that owed nothing, said Roberton Williams, a fellow at the Tax Policy Center.
For instance, a high-income household may bring in $500,000 a year, but $400,000 of it comes from tax-exempt income, and therefore is not counted as AGI. And various tax breaks may reduce or eliminate the tax owed on the remaining $100,000.