One News Now (Link) - Jim Brown (April 9, 2010)
A leading free-market economist says it’s not a stable situation for a republican democracy when half of the citizens aren’t contributing to the cost of the government they’re benefiting from.
The Washington-based Tax Policy Center estimates that about 47 percent of Americans will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions, and exemptions to eliminate their liability. (See related report [PDF])
J.D. Foster, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says it is pretty noteworthy when a center-left organization like the Tax Policy Center is pointing out that an enormous portion of Americans are not paying any income tax.
“When you’re in a situation where half the people are not paying taxes into the government, there’s very little check on the size of the government because people are getting it for free. That’s not a stable situation,” he notes.
“The other part of it is we have to explain that what that means is these people are effectively on welfare,” he adds. “You’re getting services from the government and you’re not paying for it.”
Foster says the country needs to explore tax reform ideas, but those ideas need to include making sure low- to middle-income Americans pay some nominal amount “just so they know they paid something into running their government.”