Shouldn't Nonpayers Also Share in Cost of Deficit Reduction?

 
 
July 26, 2011

During his speech last night, President Obama spoke about the need for shared sacrifice in any plan to reduce the nation's debt. He insisted that some taxpayers were not paying their fair share of taxes and that they should pay more taxes as part of a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

While the target of the President's remarks were those taxpayers earning over $250,000, he could have just as well been talking about the record 51 percent of Americans who now pay no income taxes and, thus, contribute nothing to the basic cost of government. While some of these households don't earn enough to file a tax return, millions of others have been knocked off the income tax rolls because of the generosity of the credits and deductions that have been created in recent years to help "middle-class" taxpayers.

IRS data for 2009, the most recent available, shows that more than 50 million tax filers had no income tax liability after credits and deductions. This amounts to 36 percent of all filers. The table below shows the distribution of nonpayers by state.

Perhaps some of these nonpayers could share some of the sacrifice of reducing the deficit.

Tax Year 2009 All Returns Returns with Income Tax Liability Returns with No Income Tax Liability Percent with No Tax Liability
All Filers U.S.  141,458,638 91,002,524 50,456,114 36%





Alabama 2,048,831 1,221,150 827,681 40%
Alaska 357,870 271,068 86,802 24%
Arizona 2,670,661 1,650,283 1,020,378 38%
Arkansas 1,211,644 726,653 484,991 40%
California 16,384,130 10,349,112 6,035,018 37%
Colorado 2,331,974 1,586,959 745,015 32%
Connecticut 1,711,715 1,239,360 472,355 28%
Delaware 420,472 291,903 128,569 31%
District of Columbia 312,067 225,425 86,642 28%
Florida 8,910,654 5,412,972 3,497,682 39%
Georgia 4,447,966 2,528,362 1,919,604 43%
Hawaii 648,846 441,800 207,046 32%
Idaho 657,773 396,145 261,628 40%
Illinois 6,008,183 3,912,678 2,095,505 35%
Indiana 2,951,362 1,872,611 1,078,751 37%
Iowa 1,392,004 952,967 439,037 32%
Kansas 1,310,164 859,148 451,016 34%
Kentucky 1,841,152 1,162,251 678,901 37%
Louisiana 1,960,107 1,199,901 760,206 39%
Maine 624,567 424,701 199,866 32%
Maryland 2,751,233 1,958,962 792,271 29%
Massachusetts 3,171,888 2,309,081 862,807 27%
Michigan 4,534,729 2,862,459 1,672,270 37%
Minnesota 2,541,797 1,768,618 773,179 30%
Mississippi 1,241,390 686,539 554,851 45%
Missouri 2,683,562 1,741,836 941,726 35%
Montana 472,039 297,586 174,453 37%
Nebraska 846,101 564,886 281,215 33%
Nevada 1,243,552 803,998 439,554 35%
New Hampshire 659,001 479,329 179,672 27%
New Jersey 4,236,533 2,961,268 1,275,265 30%
New Mexico 912,316 550,401 361,915 40%
New York 9,116,699 6,031,027 3,085,672 34%
North Carolina 4,144,875 2,535,771 1,609,104 39%
North Dakota 322,972 231,224 91,748 28%
Ohio 5,409,661 3,633,497 1,776,164 33%
Oklahoma 1,585,616 997,675 587,941 37%
Oregon 1,732,774 1,124,531 608,243 35%
Pennsylvania 6,058,513 4,096,027 1,962,486 32%
Rhode Island 501,586 346,562 155,024 31%
South Carolina 2,024,495 1,213,925 810,570 40%
South Dakota 385,157 255,518 129,639 34%
Tennessee 2,794,712 1,714,210 1,080,502 39%
Texas 10,784,887 6,545,993 4,238,894 39%
Utah 1,124,569 683,431 441,138 39%
Vermont 316,053 215,389 100,664 32%
Virginia 3,685,674 2,588,534 1,097,140 30%
Washington 3,144,952 2,202,129 942,823 30%
West Virginia 778,130 507,614 270,516 35%
Wisconsin 2,728,034 1,830,127 897,907 33%
Wyoming 269,357 189,351 80,006 30%
Source: IRS http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=171535,00.html

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