Posted 5 years ago on July 24, 2012, 7:17 p.m. EST by frogmanofborneo
from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
And they want people who live on pittances to have their taxes raised while scum like Romney hide income.
Misconceptions and Realities About Who Pays Taxes PDF of this report (10pp.) By Chuck Marr and Chye-Ching Huang Updated April 11, 2012 RELATED AREAS OF RESEARCH Tax — Federal 2001/2003 Tax Cuts
Earned Income Tax Credit
Individuals and Families
Taxes and the Economy
Close to half of U.S. households currently do not owe federal income tax. The Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that 46 percent of households will owe no federal income tax for 2011.  A widely cited figure is a Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that 51 percent of households paid no federal income tax in 2009. (The TPC figure for 2009 also is 51 percent.) 
These figures are sometimes cited as evidence that low- and moderate-income families do not pay sufficient taxes. Yet these figures, their significance, and their policy implications are widely misunderstood.
The 51 percent and 46 percent figures are anomalies that reflect the unique circumstances of the past few years, when the economic downturn greatly swelled the number of Americans with low incomes. The figures for 2009 are particularly anomalous; in that year, temporary tax cuts that the 2009 Recovery Act created — including the “Making Work Pay” tax credit and an exclusion from tax of the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits — were in effect and removed millions of Americans from the federal income tax rolls. Both of these temporary tax measures have since expired.
In 2007, before the economy turned down, 40 percent of households did not owe federal income tax. This figure more closely reflects the percentage that do not owe income tax in normal economic times.
These figures cover only the federal income tax and ignore the substantial amounts of other federal taxes — especially the payroll tax — that many of these households pay. As a result, these figures greatly overstate the share of households that do not pay federal taxes. Tax Policy Center data show that only about 17 percent of households did not pay any federal income tax or payroll tax in 2009, despite the high unemployment and temporary tax cuts that marked that year. In 2007, a more typical year, the figure was 14 percent. This percentage would be even lower if it reflected other federal taxes that households pay, including excise taxes on gasoline and other items.
Most of the people who pay neither federal income tax nor payroll taxes are low-income people who are elderly, unable to work due to a serious disability, or students, most of whom subsequently become taxpayers. (In years like the last few, this group also includes a significant number of people who have been unemployed the entire year and cannot find work.)
Moreover, low-income households as a group do, in fact, pay federal taxes. Congressional Budget Office data show that the poorest fifth of households paid an average of 4.0 percent of their incomes in federal taxes in 2007, the latest year for which these data are available — not an insignificant amount given how modest these households’ incomes are; the poorest fifth of households had average income of $18,400 in 2007. The next-to-the bottom fifth — those with incomes between $20,500 and $34,300 in 2007 — paid an average of 10.6 percent of their incomes in federal taxes.
Moreover, even these figures greatly understatelow-income households’ totaltax burden because these households also pay substantial state and local taxes. Data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy show that the poorest fifth of households paid a stunning 12.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes in 2011.
When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account, the bottom fifth of households pays about 16 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average. The second-poorest fifth pays about 21 percent.
It also is important to consider who the people are who do not owe federal income tax in a given year.
TPC estimates show that 61 percent of those that owed no federal income tax in a given year are working households. These people do pay payroll taxes as well as federal excise taxes, and, as noted, state and local taxes. Most of these working households also pay federal income tax in other years, when their incomes are higher — which can be seen by looking at the low-income working households that receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The leading study of this issue found that the majority of households that receive the EITC get it for only one or two years at a time, such as when their income drops due to a temporary layoff, and pay federal income tax in most other years. The study examined the filers who claimed the EITC at least once during an 18-year periodand found that they paid a net of several hundred billion dollars in federal income tax over that period. This finding shows that while some households will receive refundable tax credits in a given year whose value may exceed their payroll tax liability, they pay significant federal income taxes over time in addition to the payroll and state and local taxes they pay each year. The remainder of those who pay no income tax are primarily elderly, disabled, or students.
The fact that most people who don’t owe federal income tax in a given year do pay substantial amounts of other taxes — and also are net income taxpayers over time — belies the claim that households that do not owe income tax in a given year will form bad policy judgments because they “don’t have any skin in the game.” Furthermore, although the federal tax system is progressive overall, state and local tax systems are regressive and undo a significant share of that progressivity. There is nothing wrong with having one part of the overall tax system shield low- and moderate-income households, who pay substantial amounts of other taxes and generally pay federal income tax as well in other years. To substantially increase the share of households that owe federal income tax, policymakers would have to take such steps as: lowering the personal exemption or standard deduction — which would tax many low-income working families into, or deeper into, poverty; weakening the EITC or Child Tax Credit, which would significantly increase child poverty while reducing incentives for work over welfare; or paring back the tax exclusion for Social Security benefits, which would subject more seniors with modest fixed incomes to the income tax.
This analysis now explores these issues in more detail.