The 400 wealthiest Americans paid a lower tax rate than the bottom 50% of earners in the U.S., according to UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. The researchers estimated taxes paid by all income groups in 2018, including state and local taxes, which are generally highly regressive and comprise a third of all taxes paid by Americans, as well as payroll and sales taxes. The wealthiest 400 adults paid the lowest tax rate of any group at 23%, compared to the average 24.2% paid by the lowest-earning half of adults.
The U.S. tax code has become increasingly regressive at the top of the income distribution over the past 50 years, as a result of declining top marginal individual income tax rates and rising payroll tax rates. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to Saez and Zucman, also contributed to lowered taxes for ultra-wealthy individuals.