Government Tax Revenue Per Capita Increased 54% Since 1980, After Adjusting For Inflation

Do these findings around government tax revenue per capita surprise you?

Federal, state, and local governments combined took in $5.2 trillion in 2016 (adjusted to 2017 dollars for comparison purposes). This represents a loss of $121 billion in revenue from the prior year, as tax revenue remained flat while nontax revenue fell (Fig. 16). The government collected approximately $14,998 in tax revenue per person in 2016, a decrease from the previous year but an increase of 54% compared to $9,749 in 1980.

The composition of total government revenue has changed little over time. Individual income taxes accounted for 38% of government funding in 2016 compared to 37% in 1980. Payroll taxes were the second largest source of government revenue at 22% and include dedicated revenue streams for Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance. Sales and excise taxes accounted for 13% of government revenue, and property taxes accounted for 10%.

The government collected $361.1 billion in corporate income taxes in 2016. Corporate income taxes accounted for 7% of total government revenue in 2016, down from 10% in 1980. 

While taxes are the largest source of government revenue, the government collects also collects several forms of “nontax revenue,” for example, by selling or leasing land and natural resources or investing government funds. In 2016, non-tax revenue made up 7% of all revenue. Non-tax revenue fell below zero during the recession in 2009 after investments made by state and local governments (primarily of pension funds) lost value.

Next: Government Spending Per Capita Increased 65% in Real Terms Since 1980