Some (not me) like to divide the country into “makers” and “takers,” portraying those who don’t pay federal income taxes as the latter.
But they’re wrong.
As the following chart based on data from our colleagues at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, most Oregonians not paying federal income taxes work for a paycheck.
In 2010, workers were the largest category of people who comprised the 42 percent of Oregon households who paid no federal income tax that year. Although these workers have low paying jobs, they do pay federal payroll and excise taxes, on top of state and local taxes.
This is only a one-year snapshot and many have paid federal income taxes in the past or will pay in the future. Analysts point to the Great Recession and sluggish economy to note that the percent of Americans not paying federal income taxes is higher than normal. And they note that tax policies enacted by Republicans and Democrats alike have rightly reduced or eliminated federal income tax liability for the lowest income workers, especially those with children.
Among the rest of the 42 percent are folks who have worked, will work or would like to find work: the retired, students and unemployed workers.
So when you think of about Oregon’s 42 percent, think “worker.”