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Profiling the high-income Canadian

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What does it take to be among Canada’s richest people in terms of annual income? It seems the number of millionaires increases every year, but a recent study suggests the group is still fairly small.

Membership in the most exclusive group—the richest one-hundredth of a percent (0.01%) comes with a hefty price tag: an annual income of $2,833,000 or more.

You do not need to be making a million dollars a year to be among the 237,000 Canadians who make up the richest 1% of the population, but it still requires a sizeable annual income: $181,000 or more. Joining the richest 5%—about 1.2 million Canadians—requires an annual income of $89,000 or more.

People with Canada’s highest incomes share many characteristics. Most are men and most are married, although the number of women in the top 5% increased from one in seven in 1982 to one in four in 2004. Most rich Canadians are also aged 45 to 64; three out of five individuals in the top 0.01% are in this age group.

Almost half of the richest 1.2 million Canadians live in Ontario. Quebec is home to 18%, followed by Alberta with 15%, and British Columbia with 13%. Canada’s richest also tend to reside in its larger urban centres.

Incomes among the top 5% rose much faster than for the rest of the Canadian population from 1992 to 2004. As income increases, so do the taxes on that income. In 2004, the bottom 95% of the taxfiler population received 75% of income and paid 64% of taxes, whereas the top 5% received 25% of income and paid 36% of taxes.