Context and Background on the Nonpayers Debate

September 19, 2012

The debate over who pays and who does not pay federal income taxes in the U.S. has been front and center in national politics this week, especially the claim that 47% of Americans are "nonpayers." In the interest of providing some context to the conversation, we present the data and analysis below.

Recent material on nonpayers and the 47% figure:

Some Nonpayers Do Pay Income Tax (9/19/12)
What do Americans Think About Nonpayers? (9/19/12)
Nonpayers of Federal Taxes and Net Beneficiaries of Federal Spending (9/18/12)
Who is a Nonpayer? (9/18/12)
How much do Nonpayers Earn? (9/18/12)
Data Table: Nonpayers by State (9/18/12)

Earlier studies and blog posts on the nonpayers issue:

Tax Equity and the Growth in Nonpayers (7/20/12)
Millions Pay No Income or Payroll Taxes Thanks to Refundable Credits (6/16/10)
States Vary Widely in Number of Tax Filers with No Income Tax Liability (5/24/10)
Record Numbers of People Paying No Income Tax; Over 50 Million "Nonpayers" Include Families Making over $50,000 (3/10/10)
Surge of "Nonpayers" Will Be Part of Bush Tax Legacy (12/4/09)

Material comparing taxes paid vs. government spending received and redistribution issues:

Facts About Redistribution Obama Failed to Acknowledge (1/25/12)
Accounting for What Families Pay in Taxes and What They Receive in Government Spending (9/21/09)
Basic Facts on Redistribution and the Impact of Obama's Policies (9/21/09)

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