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How the super-rich keep their wealth

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Stocks and other business ownership interests make up the bulk of wealth for people with a net worth of at least $50 million, according to new IRS data. (iStock by Getty images)

Newly released statistics from the IRS show the makeup of the fortunes of the very wealthy.

For individuals with a net worth of at least $50 million, stocks and other business ownership interests make up the bulk of their wealth.

State and local bonds, hedge funds and private equity, and cash also make up significant chunks of rich people's assets.

The IRS data released Tuesday is based on estate tax filings, generalized to the broader population. Released once every three years, the statistics allow a look at major fortunes that isn't available elsewhere.

The biggest difference between the very rich and the average family is that their homes count for an almost negligible amount of their overall wealth. For people with net worth over $50 million, personal residences account for just over 2 percent of their wealth — less than art, at 3 percent.

In contrast, a house accounts for more than two-thirds of the wealth of the median household, according to the Census' Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The comparison, however, is a bit of an apples-to-oranges one in that the IRS data isn't broken out by the median high-worth individual. Instead, it simply describes the total wealth for the group. Fewer than 7,000 of the 14,000-plus people with more than $50 million have wealth in the form of art.