What's it take to feel rich around here?
The standard view of what makes an American 'wealthy' has evolved in the last half-decade or so.
Regardless of who they're supporting in this year's presidential election, even wealthy Americans aren't feeling nearly as rich as they were in the jumbo mortgaging, BMW-leasing, cell-phone bedazzling, debt-fueled good ol' days of the mid-2000s.
Ipsos Mendelsohn earlier this year asked affluent Americans earning $100,000 or more annually to define who they felt was in the "1%" targeted by Occupy Wall Street. On average, they cited people making at least $1.4 million a year. The bourgeois protests too much.
According to Ipsos, those $100,000 households are in the top 20% to 25% of earners, but think they're in the 38th percentile. Meanwhile, super-affluent households making $250,000 a year or more are in the top 2% to 3% of earners, but think they're in the 16th percentile. The federal government says it takes only $325,000 a year to make that elusive 1%, with only individuals and couples with income of $379,000 or more qualifying for the Internal Revenue Service's top 35% tax bracket.
"That's a big difference from 2006 or 2007, when everyone kind of overestimated how wealthy they were, or at least they felt like they were going to get rich, so started spending according to their perceptions," Steve Kraus, chief insights officer in the Audience Measurement Group at IpsosCT, told Ad Age. "Today, I think it's more the opposite pattern."
The standard view of what makes an American "rich" has also evolved in the last half decade or so. Forget the sprawling celebrity mansions on MTV or the free-spending "reality" of a Paris Hilton show: According to a Gallup poll released in late 2011, it would take a median of just $150,000 a year in income for them to consider themselves rich. Those making less than $50,000 a year, the Census Bureau's median annual household income, would make do with $100,000 a year.
College graduates, city dwellers, inner suburbanites and those already making $100,000 a year have a somewhat differing view of richness, setting the bar between $200,000 and $250,000 a year. That's more in line with the folks Congress was debating an extended tax cut for for last year, but still well shy of what the actual 1% needs to feel comfortable. Back in June, Fidelity surveyed 1,000 millionaires with an average of $3 million in worth and asked them what it would take to make them wealthy. The answer? About $5 million in investable assets, which is down roughly a third from the $7.5 million they felt they needed a few years back.
Aspirations may have been tempered a bit, but there's little indication that politics have had anything to do with it. According to the Ipsos poll, 49% don't expect their saving or investment plans to change in 2013 no matter who occupies the White House. That's compared to 14% actually who plan to spend or invest more if Mr. Obama wins and 37% who'll open the wallets a bit if Mitt Romney wins.
Then again, maybe that lower bar isn't so bad. A whopping 55% of folks who make $250,000 or more a year expect taxes to go up if President Obama is reelected, but 24% think they'll rise even if Romney wins. Limbo under that, and you'll fit cozily among the 99% without sleeping a single night in a public park.
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If Obama wins, I will reduce my income. Everything I have is paid for so why not join the 47
%ers? Many business feel this way. Why invest into your business knowing Uncle Sam is going to take, take and take. Can't beat um, join um.
with only individuals and couples with income of $379,000 or more qualifying for the Internal Revenue Service's top 35% tax bracket.
..There writers never take the time to give the correct tax terms, the "income" in this statement is taxable income, not gross income, and that is a big difference.
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