The number of individuals and married couples paying no federal income tax has risen to 45.3 percent — up five percentage points from the Tax Policy Center’s original estimate two years ago.
The TPC forecasted in 2013 that the number of households not paying federal taxes would fall to 40.4 percent, crediting an improving economy and the expiration of temporary tax cuts designed to stimulate the economy.
New data from Joint Commission on Taxation led the TPC to cut the number of people paying federal income taxes by 3.9 million. In total, 77.5 million individuals and married couples — or tax units. as they are defined by the TPC — won’t pay income tax this year out of a total of 171.3 million. The previous estimate was for 66.2 million out of 163.8 million tax units not paying income tax in 2015.
A project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, the TPC believes the number of people paying no federal income taxes will fall over time though not as quickly as was first thought.
The number of non-income taxpayers has fallen consistently from 50 percent reached during the peak of the financial crisis in 2008.
Explaining the figures Tuesday on the TPC blog, Roberton Williams, Sol Price fellow for TPC, said it “doesn’t mean more Americans have moved off the tax rolls … the higher estimate reflects new and better estimates of the number of Americans who don’t file tax returns.”
Looking to the future, TPC estimates the number not paying tax will fall to 40 percent by 2025. The TPC’s estimates count those who don’t file their income taxes as paying no income tax but the blog caveats “that’s almost certainly not right.”
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney took heat after a tape was leaked of him drawing attention to the fact that 47 percent of Americans paid no federal income taxes.
“I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney told the audience. (RELATED: The real problem with Romney’s ‘47 percent’ gaffe)
He said “there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”