In a recent Pew poll, 72 percent of Americans said that they were bothered by how complex the federal tax system is. These taxpayers are justified in their complaints: as of 2015, federal tax laws and regulations have...
- Surge of "Nonpayers" Will Be Part of Bush Tax L...
Surge of "Nonpayers" Will Be Part of Bush Tax Legacy
Fiscal Fact No. 202
During 2007, Tax Foundation economists estimate that roughly 46.6 million tax returns faced a zero or negative tax liability. These are the so-called nonpayers, people whose exemptions, deductions and credits wiped out any tax that would have been due. As a result, every dollar that was withheld from their paychecks during the year was refunded. In about half the cases, substantial additional money was "refunded" to the tax filer, although that portion is classified as a government expenditure since it is actually welfare spending, not a tax refund.
Almost a third of all tax returns, 32.6 percent of 143 million federal tax returns filed, were nonpaying in 2007, the most recent year for which IRS data is final. The percentage for 2007 is the second highest, a slight tick down from the all-time highest in 2006, when 33.0 percent of tax filers paid nothing.
The percentage of tax returns with no liability was fairly low in the 1960s and again in the early 1980s. A record had been set every year since 2002, as tax cuts throughout the Bush years, especially the refundable child tax credit, pushed low-to-middle income people off the tax rolls.
|Federal Individual Income Tax Returns with Zero of Negative Tax Liability|
|Year||Number of Returns Filed||Returns with Zero or Negative Tax Liability||Percentage of Returns with Zero or Negative Tax Liability|
Join the Tax Foundation's fight for sound tax policy Go
Tax Policy Blog
The official weblog of the Tax Foundation.
Tax By State
For information on your state, select it from the drop-down menu.
Ask a Tax Expert
Contact information for Tax Foundation policy staff Ask