They Earn $200,000 and Pay No Taxes

Death is inevitable, but federal income taxes aren’t for an increased number of high-income earners.

New IRS statistics show 7,389 federal tax returns with $200,000 or more in adjusted gross income reported no federal income taxes in 2005. That’s a 161% jump from the 2,833 comparable returns filed in 2004.

Additionally, 4,224 of the over-$200,000 earners reported no worldwide income tax liability on their 2005 returns, the IRS data show. That represents a 75% increase from the 2,420 comparable returns filed in 2004.

The data are the most recent available from the IRS. It shows a rising number of high-income earners have avoided the alternative minimum tax, which was intended to ensure that tax shelters, deductions and loopholes wouldn’t exempt wealthy Americans from paying at least some federal income tax.

“It’s an interesting case study on how people find ways to avoid paying taxes,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior research associate and tax blog editor at The Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

The increases stem in part from two tax law changes, according to the IRS Spring 2008 Statistics of Income Bulletin. read more

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