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Tax Foundation


America Celebrates Tax Freedom Day

March 31, 2009

By Josh Barro

Tax Freedom Day® will arrive on April 13 this year, the 103rd day of 2009. That means Americans will work about three and a half months of the year, from January 1 to April 13, before they have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. Tax Freedom Day falls a full two weeks earlier in 2009 than it did in 2007. In fact, not since 1967 has Tax Freedom Day come earlier than this year’s April 13 date.

This shift has been driven by two factors: the recession has reduced tax collections even faster than it has reduced income; and the stimulus package, a.k.a. HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, includes large temporary tax cuts for 2009 and 2010. Nevertheless, in 2009, Americans will pay more in taxes than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

While tax revenues are falling, government expenditures are expected to explode in 2009, also driven in significant part by HR 1. Tax Freedom Day, like almost all tax burden measures, ignores the current year’s deficits. If the projected deficit for 2009 were counted as a tax, Tax Freedom Day would arrive on May 29 instead of April 13-the latest date ever for this deficit-inclusive measure.

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