People should look deeper into the make up of the 1% as well. Wealth inequality in the U.S. is so absurd that the people taking advantage of the stuff you’re talking about are actually in the 0.1% and 0.01%. They’re in another world entirely.
You’re in the 1% U.S.-wide if your household makes $538,926/yr but it varies by state from $318,831/yr in Alabama to $827,194/yr in Connecticut. Interestingly CA is only 5th highest at $659,503/yr. However the average income of the 1% is about $1.3M/yr meaning there are a few people making absolute ridiculous sums of money pulling that average up.
People who make $400k/yr in NY or CA are doing well, but they’re not even in the top 1% and the cost of living there is such that it will only afford them a fairly “middle class” lifestyle — it’s doubtful they’ve got an offshore bank account or have complex real estate arrangements to hide their income from the IRS.
And even there the technical definition of “middle class” vs the lived reality has become absurd. Technically you’re middle class U.S.-wide if you make $48,500 to $145,500 (as a household of 3!)
If you ask most people what middle class means you’d probably get “don’t need to worry about bills too much, own a nice 2000 sqft house w/ a yard and white picket fence and 2 cars, couple vacations a year, can afford good food and eating out, date nights, can put a couple kids through college” or some similar 1950’s picturesque slice of Americana life.
In CA metro areas or NYC, $100k/yr means you probably need a couple roommates, share a 1200 sqft apartment, and still eat instant ramen and PB&J out of necessity. Daycare is $300-$400 a week so if you have a kid, you’re fucked and chances are they aren’t ever going to college. Ironically, to get that “big” income you probably went to college which means you’ve got $30k-$50k+ in debt to pay off.
In 2017 the median U.S. household income was $61,372. Pew defines the middle class as those earning between two-thirds and double the median household income. About 50% of Americans fall into that range (down from 61% in 1971).