400 top-earning Americans made $106 billion in 2010

The 400 highest earning Americans made a combined $106 billion in 2010, up more than 20 percent from 2009, according to the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service.

The data, released annually on the 400 individual income tax returns with the highest adjusted gross incomes, found that capital gains made up most of the income for the group. Salaries and wages accounted for just $5 billion of their income, while capital gains (sales of assets or stock) accounted for $59 billion.

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In fact, these top earners accounted for more than 16 percent of the total capital gains for all Americans in 2010, according to the report. The share of salaries and wages going to the top 400 was lower in 2010 than in any year since 1995.

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That suggests that these top earners largely make their pay-outs from one-time or infrequent sales rather than recurring mega-salaries.

The cut-off to get into the top 400 was $99 million in 2010, up from $77 million in 2009, but down from the peak of $138 million in 2007.

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The average tax rate paid by the top 400 was 18.04 percent in 2010, down slightly from 2009.

The top 400 also gave $7.4 billion to charity in 2010.

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