Income Taxes Account for the Largest Share of Federal Revenue

In 1940, the year before America entered World War II, excise taxes—such as gas and cigarette taxes—were the largest source of revenues for the federal government, followed by Social Security payroll taxes, then corporate income taxes.

Today, payroll taxes are still the second largest share of tax revenues while excise taxes would hardly fund two weeks’ worth of federal spending. Collections from individual income taxes are now the number one source of revenues for Uncle Sam. Corporate income taxes have declined as a source of revenues since the 1950s for many reasons—including the fact that more business income is now taxed on individual tax returns than on corporate returns.

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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