Capital gains have been taxed at rates lower than ordinary income for decades, except for a brief period in the late 1980s when top rates were the same. Taxpayers in the highest income groups benefit the most from the lower rates — in 2005, about half of the capital gains were realized by the wealthiest 0.1 percent. Read related article.

Sources: Internal Revenue Service, Treasury Department, Congressional Research Service | Graphic: The Washington Post September 11, 2011
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