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The US Tax Freedom Day Clock 2011

Alert: (3/30/11) The Tax Foundation has just announced that in 2011, Tax Freedom Day will not occur until April 12.

John Gaver
March 30, 2010

John GaverEach year, the Tax Foundation publishes a report, in which they have calculated the date on which the average US taxpayer has worked long enough, to earn enough money, to pay all of his taxes for that year. For obvious reasons, the Tax Foundation refers to this date as Tax Freedom Day.

The Tax Foundation has just reported that in 2011 Tax Freedom Day falls on April 12. In other words, most Americans will work for more than a quarter of this year, to earn enough money to pay all of their taxes for the year.

But, that's not the worst of it. The Tax Foundation points out that this date does not take into consideration the 1.48 trillion budget deficit which will have to eventually be paid. It is based only upon projected incomes and taxes for this year.

The deficit-included date for Tax Freedom, is when Americans would achieve Tax Freedom, if they were required to pay for all government spending this year, including the $1.48 trillion federal budget deficit. If that were the case, then Tax Freedom Day would fall on May 23 (see the Tax Foundation chart). That will certainly push future Tax Freedom Days further into the year.

The Tax Foundation further points out that, "Since 1948, when Tax Freedom Day was first calculated, the difference between what governments are spending and what they're collecting has never been as great as during 2009 and 2010." Of course, as the tremendous costs associated with Obamacare kick in, the deficit will skyrocket, pushing this date even later, in years to come. This should be a wake-up call for all Americans.

To help draw attention to how much of our labors go into paying taxes, we decided to use that date, to create the Tax Freedom Day Clock, a clock that counts down the months, days, hours, minutes and seconds till the next US Tax Freedom Day or, if Tax Freedom Day has passed, the months, days, hours, minutes and seconds that most Americans have actually been earning their own money, since Tax Freedom Day.

For the purpose of this clock, uses the Tax Foundation data to further calculate the exact minute of Tax Freedom. According to our expanded calculation, the exact moment of Tax Freedom will occur at 12:46:05 AM on April 12 and our Tax Freedom Clocks have been updated, accordingly.

The Tax Freedom Day Clock that appears in the box at the top of each page in our Tax and Economy section is live. That means that the Tax Freedom Day Clock will update not only when the page is opened, but will continue to update each second, as long as the page is left open. has also published the Tax Freedom Day Clock is several other formats. it is available as the freeware Tax Freedom Clock widget for Macintosh. Also available from is the UK Tax Freedom Day Clock and the UK Tax Freedom Clock widget for Macintosh. We have also published the Tax Freedom Day Clock Web Widget, which is a Flash widget that can be easily attached to blog and social networking posts.

Some of our readers have suggested that including the minutes and seconds in the Tax Freedom Clock and making it live, borders on being sadistic, because watching the time to Tax Freedom tick by so slowly, emphasizes just how much of our labor goes to support the government and not us. Our response is that it is much less sadistic than our own government demanding that we work more than a quarter of every year for them. Think about it...

The Tax Freedom Day Clock will not only track the time until Tax Freedom Day, but also tracks the amount of time you have been working for yourself, after Tax Freedom Day passes.

It should be noted that the primary data used by the Tax Foundation, to calculate the next Tax Freedom Day does not become available from the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the first of the year. So each year, until the Tax Foundation receives all appropriate data and announces Tax Freedom Day for that year, our Tax Freedom Clocks will count down to the previous year's Tax Freedom Day. Other data comes from the Congressional Budget Office, Joint Committee on Taxation, Census Bureau, Energy Information Administration, and even the Beer Institute (go figure).

Each year, the Tax Freedom Day Clock will be adjusted, as soon as the Tax Foundation announces the new date. That usually occurs some time near the first of April. This page will also be updated to reflect the new date, when it is announced. However, any such change in the date is usually nominal, as only five times since 1970 has the year to year change been more than four days and 26 times the year to year change was two days or less (see chart for 1967 to 2009 or download spreadsheet for 1929 to 2009, from the Tax Foundation).

The Tax Foundation uses the most unbiased method possible for calculating the national Tax Freedom Day. As you can see below, it is very straight forward:

Federal, state & local taxes x 365 (or 366) days = Tax Freedom Day

Total income

Dividing the total of federal, state and local taxes, by the total income of all Americans, gives us the percentage of our annual income that goes to taxes and likewise the percentage of the year that we have to work for the government to pay those taxes. Take that percentage and multiply it by the number of days in the year and you know how many days you have to work to pay your taxes for that year. Our Tax Freedom Day Clock converts that number of days to a date and time and counts down to that time.

In actuality, Tax Freedom Day is different for each state, depending upon the various tax rates that may be in effect in each state, for that tax year. In that case, the formula changes slightly, using only federal, state and local taxes for each state and only the total income for each state.

Individual state Tax Freedom Days for 2009 ranged from March 26 (in low-tax Mississippi) to May 2 (in high-tax Connecticut). To learn when Tax Freedom Day falls in your state, visit the Tax Foundation web site.

For our Tax Freedom Day Clock, we use the National Tax Freedom Day, which, as mentioned above, falls on April 12, in 2011. It should be noted that for the first few months of 2012, the Tax Freedom Day Clock will use that date as that year's date until the data for 2012 becomes available. Watch this page for the update, in late March or early April, each year.

The important thing to remember is that even in the states with the earliest Tax Freedom Day, at least a quarter of your days at work each year, go to pay your taxes (except Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, South Dakota, New Mexico, and West Virginia, which all come in just under a quarter). In the worst states, that number rises to right at a third of your work year and in Connecticut, it's over a third. Converting that to hours, in an eight hour work day, we all work at least the first two hours just to pay the government. The people in Connecticut work the first two hours and 40 minutes to pay the government.

That's like working two or three hours of every day, for which you will NOT get paid.

So the question that you must ask yourself is, "Are the services that I receive from the government worth a quarter to a third of my work days, each year?"

Or, to put it another way, "Are the services that I receive from the government worth a quarter to a third of my working life?"

How many of those lost days at work went to build a "bridge to nowhere" or to provide other pork? How many of those lost days do you think were spent to line the pockets of a bureaucrat or government contractor? Would you have spent any of your hard-earned money on any of those pork projects? Couldn't you provide or purchase many of those government services for yourself, for much less money and have more left over to improve your lifestyle? Are you getting a fair return in services, from the government, for all that work that you do for them? Think about it...

Tax Freedom Day is exactly what the name implies. It's the day on which the money that you earn actually begins to benefit you and not the government.

There are a few detractors of Tax Freedom Day - mostly those who support big government - who try to convince folks that Tax Freedom Day is not representative of the average American, since the rich pay a much larger percentage of the taxes that are actually collected. Interestingly, those detractors conveniently ignore certain facts. For example, the Tax Foundation reports that in 2006, approximately 43 million federal tax returns, representing 91 million taxpayers, claimed zero taxes owed and another 15 million households (retired, disabled and those who live on welfare) don't even file. What about all them?

Certainly, the detractors of Tax Freedom Day are correct in pointing out that the rich pay significantly more of the tax load. But they conveniently ignore other more important facts like, the fact that the rich also earn significantly more of the income and the fact that over 120 million of Americans pay no tax at all (based upon federal income tax records - these people usually pay no state income or property taxes either and pay an insignificant amount of other taxes). In fact, some will soon be getting rebates for taxes that they never paid.

The 120+ million poor Americans, who pay NO tax, offset the effect of the less than seven million rich taxpayers (earning over $154,000 per year), who pay more than 60% of the taxes actually collected. That means that Tax Freedom Day actually comes closer to representing the average middle-class American than either the rich or the poor.

This is just one example of how the detractors of Tax Freedom Day, ignore facts that conflict with their spin. But to make matters worse, they are generating more and more spin, every year, to try to hide the problem exposed by Tax Freedom Day. Just remember that those detractors are almost exclusively folks who want more government and higher taxes, rather than less - worse, some of those folks actually benefit from higher taxes.

We want to thank our friends at the Tax Foundation for their annual efforts to bring us this information. If you have not visited their site, we encourage you to do so. You may be surprised at what you will learn.

Now that you are suitably depressed over how much of your hard work goes to support the government (that is, if you are an American), I will toss you a bone, to make you feel not quite so bad.

If you were in the United Kingdom, Tax Freedom Day wouldn't occur till June 2, based upon data from the Adam Smith Institute. Of course, if you include government borrowing, the UK's Tax Freedom Day moves further back to June 14, 2008. Either way, for almost half a year, Brits work to support Her Majesty's Government.

Although that doesn't forgive our own government, for forcing us to work so long, for them each year, it does give us reason to be glad that we don't live in Europe. On the other hand, maybe that isn't something to be glad about, after all. That's because, with the Bush and Obama bail-outs and the tax increases needed to support them, it appears that may be where we are headed, if we don't start holding our own free-spending presidents and congressmen to account, on taxes and spending.

Discuss this article.

Note 1: The Tax Freedom Day Clock uses JavaScript to effect the countdown, so your browser must support JavaScript and Javascript support must be turned on. If you don't see the days to Tax Freedom above, it's probably because either you, someone else who uses your computer or a piece of software has disabled Javascript in your browser or although it's very unlikely, you may be using a very old browser that does not support JavaScript. Although Action America is designed to be easily used and navigated without JavaScript functionality, several features such as this one will not show up, if JavaScript is not enabled.

Note 2: We have occasionally had people contact us, early in the year, telling us that our Tax Freedom Day Clock is off by one hour. The clock has, in each case, been accurate. We want to remind our readers, who might want to check our calculations, not to forget that there is a one hour time change, between January 1 and Tax Freedom Day. Our clock counts down actual hours, rather than adjusted hours. However, if you do think that you see an error in the clock, please don't hesitate to contact us. After all, although we have tested it extensively, the coding is all new and a minor glitch might have slipped through our testing.

Note 3: After some effort, we developed a work-around for a bug in Internet Explorer (IE), that had initially kept IE users from seeing the above clock. We tested this clock on eleven major browsers, on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms and IE was the only one that was affected. Although IE users can now see this clock, it is partially because of many standards adherence issues like this and myriad security issues in Internet Explorer, that we strongly recommend that IE users download and use either the Firefox of Safari browser. Note too, that both also load complex pages much faster than IE.


Copyright 2013 John Gaver
All rights reserved

See related articles and supporting documents:

1986-2008 IRS Collections Data by Income Category
Obama agenda drives record expatriation
Tick - Tick - Tick / The Economy Bomb
Tax Freedom Day Builds Case for FairTax
US Tax Freedom Day Clock Web Widget
UK Tax Freedom Day Clock Web Widget
US Tax Freedom Day Clock
US Tax Freedom Day Clock Widget (for Mac)
UK Tax Freedom Day Clock Widget (for Mac)
The Privacy Factor
More Attacks on the Wealthy
US Taxpatriates List
2000 Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration & Naturalization Service (6.2mb PDF)
2003 World Wealth Report (Press Release)
American Citizens Residing Abroad (US Bureau of Consular Affairs)
Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (26 USC 877(a)(1))
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 USC 1182(a)(10)(E))
Heroes Earnings Assistance & Relief Tax Act (Public Law 110-245) (8 USC 1182(a)(10)(E))
The Economic Impact of Replacing Federal Income Taxes
      with a Sales Tax (CATO)
Fair Tax Act of 2011 (H.R. 25)
Americans for Fair Taxation
National Retail Sales Tax Alliance

Recommended Books:

The Rich Don't Pay Tax …Or Do They?
The Fair Tax Book
Fair Tax: The Truth
How to Hide Your A$$et$ and Disappear
Escape From America

See Expatriate sites:

The Sovereign Society
Escape Artist
Expat World
Second Passports

Contact your Congressman here.


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