WASHINGTON — Oklahomans reported nearly $80 billion in income to the IRS for 2010 and owed nearly $9 billion in federal income taxes, according to IRS statistics that show 68 percent of the federal income tax bill was borne by households with incomes over $100,000.
The largest group of tax return filers in Oklahoma had adjusted gross incomes below $25,000. There were 688,148 households in that category — about 43 percent of the total returns filed in Oklahoma for tax year 2010. That 43 percent of filers paid less than 2 percent of the total tax bill.
The smallest group of filers had adjusted gross income over $1 million, but those 2,405 returns accounted for $1.6 billion — or about 18 percent — of the total amount owed in the state.
Leaked comments made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser about 47 percent of Americans not paying federal income taxes sparked a new debate about the distribution of the federal income tax burden.
For tax year 2010, 36 percent of Oklahomans filing a federal return owed no income taxes; the state ranked 17th that year in terms of the percentage of “non-payers,” according to the Washington-based Tax Foundation.
The large majority of those in Oklahoma who owed no taxes reported less than $25,000 in adjusted gross income. Some of those who made less than $25,000 were elderly or retired or both. More than 23,000 filers reported taxable Social Security benefits, and more than 87,000 reported taxable pensions and annuities.
In his comments, Romney seemed to equate those who didn't owe taxes with “victims” who relied on government programs.
In Oklahoma, about 77 percent of the households with adjusted gross income of less than $25,000 reported income from salaries and wages, which means they were workers. And, even if those wages fall below the threshold of income tax liability, the so-called working poor are still subject to payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare.
President Barack Obama has called for tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans so they pay their “fair share.”
According to the IRS figures, the top 2 percent of Oklahoma filers — those with adjusted gross income above $200,000 — earned about 23 percent of the income in the state and owed 44 percent of the federal income taxes. Those with incomes above $100,000 accounted for about 43 percent of the income and paid 68 percent of the taxes.