Most who don’t owe federal income taxes are working or elderly


The question of who is in the “47 percent” still resonates. I found that out when I spoke at a public policy forum held by AccountAbility Minnesota about what’s at stake for Minnesota’s low-income families in the federal and state tax policy debates.

The fact is that the majority of Americans who have incomes too low to owe federal income taxes pay significant federal taxes, primarily through the payroll tax, but also in federal excise taxes.

The best summary I’ve seen on this issue comes from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who created the graphic shared here. Most of those who don’t owe federal income taxes in a given year are workers, seniors, people with disabilities, or students. Most of these folks have paid or will pay significant federal taxes during their working lives.

And at the state level, we know that low- and moderate-income Minnesotans are paying their fair share, and in fact pay a higher share of their incomes in state and local taxes than the highest-income Minnesotans.