How long do Americans work for each type of tax?

In 2011, Americans will devote 2 hours and 13 minutes of every eight-hour workday, or over a quarter of their working hours (27.7 per cent), to paying taxes. In a nine-to-five workday, it takes until 11:13 a.m. to earn enough to pay that day's share of taxes at the federal, state and local level. If we add the federal deficit to the picture – that is, if the federal government were planning to collect enough in taxes during 2011 to finance all of its spending – Americans would work until lunchtime, 12:07 p.m., for the government, before keeping any of their earnings for themselves, says the Tax Foundation.

These calendar- and clock-based illustrations are a useful way to explain how much the nation as a whole spends on government:

  • Individual income taxes require the most work; all but seven states, and some localities, levy an income tax. When these are added to the federal income tax burden, income taxes are projected to amount to an average of 46 minutes of work in an eight-hour workday.

  • Social insurance taxes (taxes dedicated to funding social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare) require 29 minutes of work.

  • Sales and excise taxes require 20 minutes of work.

  • Property taxes require 16 minutes of work.

  • Corporate income taxes require 16 minutes of work.

    Source: Kail Padgitt and Alicia Hansen, Nation Works until 11:13 a.m. to Pay All Taxes, Lunchtime to Pay off the Deficit, Tax Foundation, May 5, 2011.

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    First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, United States

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 24 May 2011
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