The basic structure of the income tax simply exempts subsistence levels of income from tax.
What about the rest of the untaxed households, the 23 percent of households who don’t pay income tax because of particular tax breaks?
In fact, however, many of those who don’t pay income tax do pay other taxes—federal payroll and excise taxes as well as state and local income, sales, and property taxes.
The large percentage of people not paying income tax is often blamed on tax breaks that zero out many households’ income tax bills and can even result in net payments from the government.
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Those provisions matter most for households with income under ,000, who make up nearly 90 percent of those made nontaxable by tax expenditures.
Higher-income households pay no tax because of other provisions.
Itemized deductions and credits for children and education are a bigger factor for households with income between ,000 and 0,000.
The relatively few nontaxable households with income over 0,000 benefit most from above-the-line and itemized deductions and reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends.