Tax day: Nearly half of Americans owe nothing

Internal Revenue Service building placard

April 18 is Tax Day, and income tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service. Photo Credit: Saturnism/

Federal income tax returns are due on April 18, 2011, and most Americans will dutifully fulfill their obligations to do so. There has been a lot of discussion about how large a tax burden is actually placed on the taxpayers, and how oppressive the income tax is. Nearly 50 percent of income tax filers will not owe the government a dime.

55 percent of Americans pay income tax

Tax Day 2011 falls on April 18 rather than April 15. This year nearly 45 percent of households will not have to pay any taxes on their 2010 income, according to Bloomberg. Low-income households receive exemptions and deductions, such as the Earned Income Credit and the Making Work Pay Credit. Those who pay no income taxes are very low income or living on a fixed income such as Social Security or disability income. People who have children but make very little also commonly pay no income taxes. The average tax refund, according to CNN, was $3,003 last year.

Wealthy paying less

The tax burden for the wealthiest taxpayers, according to Daily Finance, has been falling for some time. In 1992, the 400 returns with the highest reported incomes averaged a tax bill of 26 percent of their income, but that figure was 17 percent in 2007. Though the wealthiest 10 percent account for more than half the nation’s tax revenue by dollar amount and the wealthiest 5 percent account for 44 percent, the more lucrative tax breaks, such as for charitable contributions, are available to the rich. There are more than $1 trillion in tax breaks in the current U.S. tax code, enough to get an $8,000 refund per taxpayer per year. However, trying to catch the Internal Revenue Service napping is not a good idea. The IRS is more likely to press charges now than at any point in the past decade, according to USA Today.

Americans pay lower taxes than most developed countries

Though many people protest the U.S. tax system for myriad reasons, most technical literature reveals that Americans pay very little income tax compared with the rest of the developed world, according to MSNBC. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, maintains data on taxes in the developed world. The OECD estimates that Americans average 24 percent of income paid in taxes, compared to 48 percent for Danes, 42 percent for the French, 37 percent in Germany and 27 percent in Australia.




Daily Finance

USA Today


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