April 15, 2010

Why more Americans pay no income tax

This op-ed was published on CNN.com on April 15.

If “taxes are the price we pay for civilized society,” to quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., then April 15 is the day that bill comes due for every working American.

But that is no longer the case for a growing class of Americans for whom the price of civilized society has been reduced to zero because the tax code’s generous credits and deductions completely erase their income tax liability.

And for many of these nonpayers, civilized society actually pays them a hefty refund, which is not much different from a welfare check except that it’s run through the tax code instead of through the Department of Health and Human Services.

If tax year 2009 … is anything like tax year 2008, then a record number of the nearly 142 million Americans who will file a tax return will get back every dollar that was withheld … . Read the rest.