Surge of “Nonpayers” Will Be Part of Bush Tax Legacy

During 2007, Tax Foundation economists estimate that roughly 46.6 million tax returns faced a zero or negative tax liability. These are the so-called nonpayers, people whose exemptions, deductions and credits wiped out any tax that would have been due. Almost a third of all tax returns, 32.6 percent of 143 million federal tax returns filed, were nonpaying in 2007, the most recent year for which IRS data is final. The percentage for 2007 is the second highest, a slight tick down from the all-time highest in 2006, when 33.0 percent of tax filers paid nothing. The percentage of tax returns with no liability was fairly low in the 1960s and again in the early 1980s. A record had been set every year since 2002, as tax cuts throughout the Bush years, especially the refundable child tax credit, pushed low-to-middle income people off the tax rolls.

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