The Tax Foundation, a conservative think tank, has estimated how many people paid income taxes each year going back to 1950. That year 28 percent of filers had no (or negative) income-tax liability. It dropped for the next two decades, reaching a trough of 16 percent in 1969. It rose, bumpily, back to 26 percent during the Carter years, fell again to 18 percent in 1984, and then began to rise — especially after the Gingrich Congress introduced the child credit. Pres. George W. Bush expanded that credit, and also reduced the 15 percent tax rate that applied to many lower-income workers to 10 percent. Both moves increased the number of people with no income-tax liability. During the last few years, the number leapt upward because of the severe economic slump. Many people saw their incomes drop to levels at which they were eligible for the earned-income tax credit, for example. It is generally assumed that the percentage of non-payers of income tax will drop once a real recovery begins.
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