As You Get Ready To File, Know That Taxes Are At A 60-Year Low

Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008.
Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Different analyses have found that Americans are paying taxes at their lowest rate since the 1950s.

If you measure taxes as they relate to the share of the nation's economy or its GDP, this year's taxes will be the lowest since 1950.

That's according to the AP, which also reports that across the board, 2010's taxes will be significantly lower than they were during the Bush years. They report:

Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions. The result is that families making as much as $50,000 can avoid paying federal income taxes, if they have at least two dependent children. Low-income families can actually make a profit from the income tax, and the wealthy can significantly cut their payments.

"The current state of the tax code is simply indefensible," says Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. "It is hemorrhaging revenue."

Robert Schlesinger, opinion editor at U.S. News and World Report, breaks down the numbers: "...Federal tax receipts this year are expected to be about 14.8 percent of GDP. By contrast that figure was 17.5 percent in tax cut warrior George W. Bush's last full year in office."

Last year, USA Today ran the analysis trying to be as inclusive as possible. Taking into account federal, state and local taxes, the paper found that in 2009 personal taxes were still at the lowest level since Harry Truman was president.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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