Can a single self-published paper really refute decades of work by three famous economists?

If the paper is the modestly titled "Income Inequality in the United States: Using Tax Data to Measure Long-Term Trends,” then the answer — with qualifications — is yes.

Some background: Economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman have written extensively about wealth and income inequality. From their academic posts at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris and the University of California at Berkeley, they (and others) have made a more specific claim: When it comes to income, the top 1% in the U.S. has pulled away from the pack. Their finding became so deeply ingrained in the public consciousness that it was embodied in an Occupy Wall Street slogan, "We are the 99%!”