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44% of Americans do not pay federal taxes

I am always shocked when I see these stats. It is estimated that about 44% of American households will not pay federal tax on their 2018 returns, and that is equivalent to about 76 million Americans. About 43.2% of Americans did not pay any taxes on their 2017 returns, so fewer Americans will pay taxes this year as estimated by the Tax Policy Center and IRS data.

Now this is not because anyone is breaking the law or anything, but it because the tax code is set up to give advantages (various credits, deductions, and other benefits) to low to moderate income households.

These stats are incredible. There is left wing Democratic “push” to say successful/wealthy/higher earning Americans need to pay more taxes. How many of those people that say “tax the rich” are paying zero taxes? While there is no data on that, I would imagine a lot of those who say tax the rich are paying zero dollars. So they are paying zero towards the military, paying zero towards government assistance programs, paying zero towards infrastructure, and on and on.

It is almost comically hypocritical. Probably millions of people say tax “person X”, but those who say tax someone else refuse to pay taxes themselves or don’t pay any.

Who pays taxes?

Here are more facts on this tax issue. The top .1% of American households pay 39% of all taxes in this country. Let me repeat that…39% of all taxes paid in this country are paid by .1% of the population.

Now the top 20% of Americans pay 87% percent of the country’s taxes. Incredible. The top 20% by income by 87% of this countries taxes. And people say tax the wealthy or higher earning Americans more?

It is comical to me. Why don’t we just put some tax laws in place that say 80% of the population does not have to pay any taxes and just have the top 20% of people pay every single tax in this country. Or say the top 10% or 1% need to pay all the countries taxes.

Now I am not against successful people paying more in taxes. It is fair for them to do so. But at what point is enough? When almost 50% of Americans pay zero dollars, and the top 20% pay 87% of the nation’s federal taxes, when is enough enough? It is an interesting question and concept, and something to think about. But it is not right for those who pay zero dollars to just simply say tax someone else…but do not tax me.

As we have written about, income disparity is a huge problem in this country. There is sadly and unfortunately not one simple answer to this problem, or solution to poverty. But I do think it is ridiculous when people say “tax the rich” when the rich and wealthy already pay the vast majority of the countries taxes. And to make matters worse, many of the people that say tax the rich probably paying zero dollars for their taxes.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

One thought on “44% of Americans do not pay federal taxes

  • March 21, 2019 at 5:12 am

    I live in NYC and gross just over 100K. This place eats money like you can’t believe. You think taxes are high for those who pay them, but somehow New York finds way to get you to raise expectations. I pay just under 30% on taxes (inc. NYC taxes) and take home not quite 70K even though gross 100+. Cost of living and taxes steals your money in return. It’s wild.
    This, of course, is entirely not fair and is wrong – makes no sense that 44% of Americans pay no taxes and can get away with it. How do the 44% ask the government to pay for services like roads, education, police protection, healthcare, etc.? when they pay zero taxes.


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