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Why Nearly Half of Americans Pay No Federal Income Tax

Roberton Williams

Published: June 09, 2010
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Reprinted with permission of Tax Analysts.

The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the full report in PDF format.


Abstract

During the recent tax filing season, cable news and talk radio repeatedly discussed the Tax Policy Center's (TPC's) estimate that 47 percent of Americans would pay no federal income tax for 2009. However much of the commentary failed to explain why.


Introduction

During the recent tax filing season, cable news and talk radio repeatedly discussed the Tax Policy Center's (TPC's) estimate that 47 percent of Americans would pay no federal income tax for 2009 (Tax Notes, June 29, 2009, p. 1583, Doc 2009-14138, 2009 TNT 122-14). However much of the commentary failed to explain why. The deep recession is one cause - incomes are down and so are tax liabilities. But a much larger factor is that Congress has chosen to deliver large portions of social policy through the tax code.

(End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.)