How many tax payers in the US?

How many tax payers are there in the US? Obviously, children and some elderly people don’t pay, because they have no income.

I have heard that some people receive back all of their federal income tax via credits and deductions and so only pay Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. Is this true? If so, would such a person be counted as a tax payer? These items are taxes with different names, right?

It depends. How do you want to define “tax payer”? For example, a six-year-old child probably has no income of his own but if he is given five dollars by his grandparent to buy something for himself, he may pay sales tax when doing so. Does that count? It really depends on your definition.

Lets confine it to federal income tax. I realize that sales taxes, gasoline taxes, extra fees on phone bills, etc. are forms of taxation, but almost everybody pays those, so there’s really not much of a question.

Now, some married couples filed joint returns and some people didn’t file income tax returns, so it’s not the same thing as number of taxpayers, but what I found so far is an IRS bulletin stating, “taxpayers filed 138.4 million individual income tax returns for Tax Year (TY) 2006.”

Tax filers who do not pay any tax:
(I have read that 41% of returns in 2007 have no tax due, but can’t seem to find the source. This source only goes to 2005.)

More comprehensive numbers on who pays what amount of the total tax bill:

It’s worth noting that this does not include payroll taxes, which represent 7.65% of gross wages for most taxpayers (with an additional 7.65% mostly paid by corporations on those wages). However, some credits (Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit in particular) can produce a refund even if the taxpayer has no tax due… EITC and ACTC can actually exceed 35% of earned income. Thus, these people are receiving a “refund” that exceeds their payroll tax.

Please explain payroll tax. Is it the same as federal witholding?

Payroll tax is social security and medicare. It is not the same as income tax.

No, payroll tax is Social Security + Medicare. It’s an actual tax payment, not just withholding like income tax.

Lots of children pay federal income taxes. If they have a savings account or investments set up by their parents, they’ll have to pay taxes on the returns.

I had no idea that bank accounts and investments were common for below-working-age children. Are you serious, or am I missing a joke?

You didn’t have a savings account before you started working? The one that mom and dad mad you put the money from Grandma into? That sort of thing is pretty common. Having enough interest income from such an account to need to file tax returns is probably much less common.

Not just talking about trust fund babies, either. Many parents set up savings/investments for their kids under UGMA type plans. I had one as a kid.

There were 138,893,908 individual tax returns in 2007, according to the IRS’s tax stats at a glance. I have seen what is probably the exact answer to these questions in some of the IRS’s other tax stats, but it takes a lot of digging.

I had a paper route at age 12. Its very plausable. Also, it’s highly recommended that kids get an account early, and understand what it is used for. A lot of savings accounts have $25 minimum. I think a lot of kids can scrape up more than that for a year to get something started. And trust me, having an account that early gives a boost to a kid, and he/she will have a better understand of money later in life, more than his/her peers that don’t have them. No hard evidence, but plenty of anecdotal evidence that says that is true.

They really are quite common. Even working-class parents try to put a little money away for college and some families get all the relatives to chip in a few bucks at birth. Putting it in the kid’s name means you won’t have to add it to your own taxable income. Even under the current, much-tightened laws, kids can earn more than $1000 in investment income without paying any tax.

Of course, these kids rarely have to file their own tax returns. Even the ones who make too much in interest generally report it on the parent’s return (they have to pay the same tax rate as the parents either way). As a result, they probably don’t make up a very large percentage of tax filers.

I had my own savings account when I was a kid. I think it got up to about $1200 at one point. My brother and I are still (jokingly) bitter about the fact that our parents raided those accounts when I was about 10 so that they could spend two weeks in Italy without us.