45% of Americans pay no federal income tax

77.5 million households do not pay federal individual income tax

Getty Images

Many Americans don’t have to worry about giving Uncle Sam part of their hard-earned cash for their income taxes this year.

An estimated 45.3% of American households — roughly 77.5 million — will pay no federal individual income tax, according to data for the 2015 tax year from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington-based research group. (Note that this does not necessarily mean they won’t owe their states income tax.)

Roughly half pay no federal income tax because they have no taxable income, and the other roughly half get enough tax breaks to erase their tax liability, explains Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

Despite the fact that rich people paying little in the way of income taxes makes plenty of headlines, this is the exception to the rule: The top 1% of taxpayers pay a higher effective income-tax rate than any other group (around 23%, according to a report released by the Tax Policy Center in 2014) — nearly seven times higher than those in the bottom 50%.

On average, those in the bottom 40% of the income spectrum end up getting money from the government. Meanwhile, the richest 20% of Americans, by far, pay the most in income taxes, forking over nearly 87% of all the income tax collected by Uncle Sam.

Rich people pay nearly 87% of all federal individual income tax in America

Income level Share of total federal individual income tax paid Average income tax bill per person
Lowest 20% -2.2% -$643
Second lowest 20% -1.7% -$621
Middle income 4.2% $1,743
Second richest 20% 12.9% $6,285
Richest 20% 86.8% $50,176

Source: Tax Policy Center

The top 1% of Americans, who have an average income of more than $2.1 million, pay 43.6% of all the federal individual income tax in the U.S.; the top 0.1% — just 115,000 households, whose average income is more than $9.4 million — pay more than 20% of it.

When it comes to all federal taxes — individual income, payroll, excise, corporate income and estate taxes — the distributions of who pays what is more spread out. This is partially because nearly everyone pays excise taxes, which includes taxes on gasoline, alcohol and cigarettes.

Rich people pay 69% of all federal taxes in America

Income level Share of total federal taxes paid
Lowest 20% 0.8%
Second lowest 20% 3.4%
Middle income 9.2%
Second richest 20% 17.5%
Richest 20% 69%

Source: Tax Policy Center


23 thoughts on “45% of Americans pay no federal income tax”

  1. Net income tax should be considered more than just income tax alone.

    For instance, a “tax paying” Federal worker collects his or her entire salary from taxes paid by others and his/her taxes are in reality just a small reduction in the amount of other people taxes he gets from the government in the form of pay. He/she pays nothing in net taxes.

    The people actually supporting the country through private sector productive work are a fairly small minority of the population.

    Something someone needs to explain in detail to Sanders and the Democrats.

  2. I don’t get how people can think that increasing taxes on any bracket of US income earners is a good idea.

    Our politicians have an absolutely massive budget to work with, and can’t manage to get the job done. We could triple the budget and those bastards would still be asking for more money.

    Until a politician comes forward with a sane plan to cut costs at the Federal level I will be voting TPC in 2016.

    TPC 2016- Because fuck you, thats why.

  3. “45% of Americans pay no federal income tax”

    It’s worse than that. I know people who only earn $15k and they get $8000+ in “refunds”.

  4. I believe only those who pay Federal Income Taxes should be eligible to vote in Federal elections. If that leaves too many people disenfranchised for your taste, then get to work re-writing the tax code!

  5. TPC said:
    “TPC 2016- Because fuck you, thats why.”

    You’ve got my vote unless SMOD 2016 is ahead in the polls.

  6. Im one of those that pays almost nothing after my deductions. I work full time, but my wife has been a stay at home mom for a while now, and I have two kids. Don’t make that much, but I do make enough to live a comfortably middle class lifestyle here and still save, so I get back pretty much all I paid in(aside from SS, obviously) after all the deductions. I don’t go looking for free shit, but Im not turning down tax deductions, no matter how silly they are. I didn’t write the tax code, and don’t agree with any kind of income tax anyway.

    Plus, since I am under 40 and therefore going to get absolutely NOTHING from SS anyway, fuck em. They are getting that from me, thats more than enough, since its not like they will actually be giving me anything back. I don’t think “forced participation in a Ponzi scheme” was part of the social contract I signed. Come to think of it, Im pretty sure I never signed anything to begin with…

  7. I thought income tax was a temporary measure during the WWII?. Oh right …… it’s the war on terror now……

    I know people who pay NO taxes whatsoever and are living a better lifestyle than me, which I worked 35 years and paid taxes even to this day. Go figure. Guess I’m the fool……. No……. wait!

    He has no savings and lives off the government teet…… I’ve got savings in the bank that they can confiscate later when they go down………

    Never mind…………………..

  8. @Admin: Glad to read Bernie’s message reached you. He has a lot of other great ideas too. Problem with your scenario though; Trump would never propose a tax on Wall St. transactions or any other tax on Billionaires (he is one).

    BTW New Reuters poll: Bernie is ahead by 6% nationally.

    Lastly, I think everyone here should watch this…

    Terrorism is “Made in the USA”. The “Global War on Terrorism” is a Fabrication, A Big Lie


    This one as well:


  9. This is a false narrative, a red herring to piss off sectors of society.
    If you are working on the books you are paying two forms of federal income taxes.

    Social Security “deductions” are an income tax (6.2% of your pay). Quote from the SCOTUS: “It lays a special income tax upon employees to be deducted from their wages and paid by the employers.” Helverling v. Davis 1937

    Medicare “deductions” are an income tax. It operates in the same way as SSA. (1.45% of your pay)

    Therefore ANYONE working on the books is paying at least 7.65% of their pay in income taxes.

    These 45% of people who “are not” paying income taxes don’t make enough money to owe more taxes to the .gov at the end of the year or make so little they actually get a nice “refund” aka welfare check back from the .gov.

  10. Harry nails it.

    The “rich” pay all the income tax (OK, 87%, close enough) which is why when people scream that they are not paying their fair share it totally shits me.

    How can paying it all not be enough?

  11. because its never enough, and it will never be enough until we are all equally poor, destitute slaves that know their role.

    we “pay” income tax just like the EPA “suggests” the MPG CAFE standards and how the ACA(Obozo-Care) created a “marketplace” and how when you go to the DMV you are a “customer.”

    out of necessity it will continue until it literally can’t, either because there is no more money to steal or people start shooting the takers in the face when they show up for “their fair share” of your flesh.

  12. Brian says:

    his is a false narrative, a red herring to piss off sectors of society.
    If you are working on the books you are paying two forms of federal income taxes.

    Brian you’re right in that all who are working on the books are paying a form of income taxes . However you are playing forward a false narrative too in that 45% of the folks aren’t paying what 55% of us are.

    When that figure ( folks paying zero Federal Income Taxes ) expands to 51% we’ll officially be a nation with a majority of free loaders .

  13. —Which just goes to show you how bad things really are and the degree to which income inequality has ruined the American way of life an economy. They don’t pay taxes because they don’t have the money to pay it!—they struggle from monh to month. How long can this keep going on?

  14. BUCK, “Brian you’re right in that all who are working on the books are paying a form of income taxes . However you are playing forward a false narrative too in that 45% of the folks aren’t paying what 55% of us are.

    When that figure ( folks paying zero Federal Income Taxes ) expands to 51% we’ll officially be a nation with a majority of free loaders .”

    It is my position that none of us should have to pay a tax on our wages no matter the amount. Your time (your property) is a component in the calculation of wages. What gives government first rights to your time? That used to be called slavery. No, what gives them first rights is that we are being paid in forms of paper that circulate as money, not directly issued by the government. THAT is the taxable event. Not employment, or fair shares or whatever.

    Until people understand this connection that suffering will only get worse. We are paying the bankers for the privilege of using their credit. The income tax on bank credit is only to control the quantity of credit issued. Without that tax the system would have hyperinflated away long ago.

  15. Well, well… I for one am shocked… shocked I tell you!

    Oh wait, you forgot to mention they all contribute to the payroll taxes so isn’t this just a bit misleading… LOL, I know, kinda the point, isn’t it!

    And something tells me every one of those “slackers” would be pleased to pay income tax should “the mastah” ever decide to pay them a living wage.

    Conservatives… beating up on the working poor in America for decades!

    Kudos for a job well done BP!

  16. “45% of Americans pay no federal income tax”

    How can I get in that club ?? I read it was 51% pay no federal tax, but really at this point what difference does it make?

  17. @ Admin.

    As a retired aerospace president I’ve paid multiples of your contributions sonny boy/girl, and I’m sure you’ll be very depressed to hear that there really are people with significant income who are more than happy to contribute to seeing that a child doesn’t go to bed hungry (I know, pathetic isn’t ti).

    Now, it’s back to that divide and conquer career path you’ve followed Ms/Mr heart of gold!

    1. SRV

      I’m depressed that an aerospace president can’t spell “it” or comprehend the posted article. Very sad. And pathetic.

      Why don’t you tell me your net worth next time. I’ll be so impressed by the wealth you accumulated dealing arms. Having a representative of the military industrial complex around warms the cockles of my heart.

      You are going to absolutely love my 30 Blocks of Squalor article in process. I’ll dedicate it to you.

  18. SRV – only US children? Or all? How much of your money have you donated, bitch?

    Bet you are sitting in a nice house with all the accoutrements. You douche liberals talk ok, but when it is time to pony up, well, that is a different story.

    And if a child is hungry in the US, it is its parent’s fault. Not mine. There are plenty of resources available, unless the parent is drug addled, drunk, or just a do not give a shit ghetto rat.

    Go fuck yourself.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.