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- 54 Million Federal Tax Returns Had No Income Tax Liabilit...
54 Million Federal Tax Returns Had No Income Tax Liability in 2011
The percentage of nonpayers (taxpayers who owe zero income taxes after taking their credits and deductions) began to climb significantly after the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which increased the value of the standard deduction and nearly doubled the size of the personal exemption. But the number of nonpayers has soared in recent years because of the expansion and creation of credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Credit, and various energy and education credits.
In 2011, roughly 54 million federal income tax filers had no income tax liability after deductions and credits. This amounts to 37 percent of the roughly 145 million tax returns filed that year. While high, this is not as high as 2009 when 58 million income tax filers, nearly 42 percent, were nonpayers. By contrast, the low point for nonpayers was 1969, when only 16 percent of filers had no income tax liability.
For more charts like the one below, see the second edition of our chart book, Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns.
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About the Tax Policy Blog
The Tax Policy Blog is the official blog of the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. Our economists welcome your feedback. If you would like to send an e-mail to the author of a blog post, please click on that person's name to locate his or her e-mail address or visit our staff page here.