32.4% of American Tax Filers “Lucky Duckies” in 2007

The IRS has released a new Statistics of Income Bulletin with the first numbers on the tax season.

, I noted that the percentage of people who filed returns that indicated that they paid no federal income tax had risen slightly, to 33%. For tax year , the percentage dropped slightly:

Tax YearNumber of Zero-Tax FilersZero-Tax Filers as a Percent of All Filers
42,500,00032.6%
43,800,00032.6%
45,700,00033.0%
46,400,00032.4%

(In , some people who ordinarly would not have filed a tax return — for instance because they didn’t have any income to report — filed anyway in order to claim their stimulus payment. Those people aren’t included in the totals above).

this percentage hovered in the 18–25% range. Then it climbed to this 32–33% plateau during the Dubya years. , the percentage is expected to leap to 43.4% and then drift back down from there to somewhere in the 30s in subsequent years.


I didn’t see much indication that folks in the “tea party” set, as upset as they were about the government putting us all more deeply into debt in order to shovel money around in its bailouts, were entertaining the next step: cutting off their own funding of the government behemoth.

But actor Craig T. Nelson was interviewed on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show yesterday, and he said that tax resistance is the way to go for folks who share his disgust with government spending priorities. Excerpts:

NELSON:
Well, I do have a solution. There’s only one way. … As an investor, as someone who gets taxed an awful lot, I just say “I’m not gonna pay, ’till you guys can show me that you’re fiscally responsible.” Until then… listen, the first they went after education. We’re gonna cut education…
BECK:
Why would they do that?
NELSON:
Why? That’s the most important thing in the world.
BECK:
And then cops and prisons.
NELSON:
And firefighters. We don’t have any fires in California.
BECK:
(Laughs)
NELSON:
…Listen, I’m not gonna pay… I’m not gonna pay any more money. What these people are asking me to do…
BECK:
You’re seriously saying, “I’m not gonna” — you’re not gonna…
NELSON:
No, I’m asking Glenn Beck to promote this. I’m saying it personally. But I’m asking you…
BECK:
No, I know. Are you saying you personally won’t pay income tax anymore?
NELSON:
I’m really thinking about it, Glenn, because as a fiscally responsible grandfather, there are programs that they’re asking me to fund that I refuse to fund. If the veterans coming back are not getting what they deserve, those people that have served, that’ve put themselves in harm’s way. If my children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchild who’s about to be here — thank you, grandson — is not going to be educated properly then I’m through with it. You know, I’m not gonna spend money on these things that your asking me to spend… They should be allowed to go bankrupt!

This part is kind of hilarious. Check this out:

…They should be allowed to go bankrupt! What happened — we are a capitalistic society. OK, I go into business, I don’t make it, I go bankrupt. They’re not going to bail me out. I’ve been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No. No. They gave me hope, and they gave me encouragement, and they gave me a vision. That came from my education.

Did the government bail out Craig T. Nelson when he was on food stamps and welfare? Hell no! He relied on his good, old-fashioned, public education to get him through!

Later on, Nelson whipped out a copy of the Declaration of Independence and read the part that reads, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

NELSON:
“But when a long train of abuses and transgressions [sic]…” And I’ve had enough of it. So… The only way that I can protest in any viable and visible form — for myself — is to say “I’m not paying you right now.”
BECK:
Are you willing to go to jail for that?
NELSON:
I’m going to go to jail. But I still think it’s kind of a [mafia?] deal because they’ve got a subcontractor who says… they’re extorting me, and they’re saying “you’re going to pay us this amount” — what am I going to pay now? 90% of what I make? I mean, I’ve got California… federal and state. That’s unfair. That’s taxation without representation.
BECK:
I think if the United States government takes over California’s loans, I think it is taxation without representation — I couldn’t vote for any of that. I couldn’t vote for that. You people in California are saving the seal otters. And… and… I like saving people!
NELSON:
I like the sea otters.
BECK:
I like the sea otters too, but eh?
NELSON:
And those people who like the sea otters should pay for ’em.
BECK:
Yes.
NELSON:
But if I don’t want to save the sea otters… Is that anarchy?
BECK:
No! This is American!

From there it disintegrated even further into incoherency.

The interview wasn’t all that comprehensible, even by modern television talk show standards, and it isn’t all that clear whether Nelson is resisting taxes, plans to resist, or is just making big talk at the barber shop. His talk of having been contacted by a mafia-like IRS debt collection subcontractor suggests to me that he’s been resisting for a while now, since it takes some time for a tax debt to go into collection and since the IRS has recently discontinued its subcontracting of such accounts.

Beck summed it up for his viewers this way:

I’ll tell you [addressing Nelson], I think you’re the first person I’ve heard that is expressing the way I feel that, you know, you get to a point where you’re like “enough! I’ll go to jail. I will go to jail before I pay you another dime for this insanity! Because you’re not responding… everybody in America knows this is crazy!”

A groundswell of tax resistance on the right? Could be. I’ll keep my ears up.


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