Who pays state and federal taxes in Oklahoma — in 2 charts

[Update: A previous version of chart #1 incorrectly said 2011. The chart is based on 2009/2010 American Community Survey data.]

1) 44 percent of Oklahomans owed no federal income tax in 2010. The vast majority were workers, elderly, disabled, or students.

2) Poor and middle class Oklahomans pay a greater percentage of their incomes in state and local taxes than do the wealthiest.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

7 thoughts on “Who pays state and federal taxes in Oklahoma — in 2 charts

  1. Really, Really look at the charts of income share paid in taxes by different income levels. The top one percent only pays about 4.8 percent of their income in Oklahoma taxes and 2/3 of what they pay is in the form of INCOME tax. The middle 20% of earners… the middle class… pays almost twice as much tax as a percentage of income at 9% and most of it is sales/excise and property taxes. The Republicans want to eliminate the income tax and increase the sales/excise taxes to make up for it… which means that the rich will pay FAR LESS taxes and the burden will be shifted off to the middle class and poor. But people think “no taxes!” and don’t realize they are being fooled.

  2. I guess, my goal, should be, to become a 1%er in order to pay less taxes overall. Hmm, sounds like a Romney/Ryan plan!

  3. I really would like to see a comparison between the 2007 figures and the 2008-2011 figures to show any fluctuations or patterns.

  4. You do know that the only income earners who pay more in payroll taxes than they receive back in Medicaid and Social Security are the upper quintile.

    Payroll taxes for the rest are just a delayed benefit program, which is why the system is going broke.

    People who only pay payroll taxes are doing nothing to support the federal system.

    Regressiveness in local income taxes is due to comsumption to income ratios. Upper income people consume a lower proportion of their income, which naturally leads to a lower ratio of sales and property tax. But when do the rich spend it? Oh, thats right, when they retire. Guess what income bracktet they belong to when they retire?

    It’s called income mobility people, people don’t spend their whole lives in the same bracket.

    As you can see from the bottom chart, our state’s income tax is definitely progressive. I for one, don’t see the benefit of zeroing out the income tax, but Mr. Blatt’s assertions are definitely misleading.

    This is why people who see through this spin tend not to pay much attention to this guy. I should start doing the same thing.

  5. Dick, I partly agree and partly disagree with your post. Absolutely, the income tax as it currently exists in Oklahoma is progressive. That is why it would be a real problem in my view of it were done away with and the other forms of taxation were raised. As you point out, upper income people consume less as a percentage of their income… thus these consumption taxes will only hurt lower income people.

    At one time, Oklahoma was truly progressive in many ways, including taxation. Not long ago, food sales were not taxed here in Oklahoma.

    Rather than do away with the income tax, we should be getting back to having no tax on food.

    What I don’t completely agree with and partly don’t understand is your views on income mobility. While we certainly don’t spend our lives in the same bracket… most of us progressing from flipping burgers at McDonalds, through some slightly better job and back to being a greeter at Wal Mart in our dotage, there is little real mobility. We are pretty much guaranteed to be in the same tax brackets most of our lives as our parents were in at the same times in their lives. So, I am not sure what lesson to draw from the the issue of income mobility.

    As far as people who pay only payroll tax and no income tax not helping to support the federal system, I think that is very much a wrong way of looking at it. In my view, those people support it through all the taxes paid both by the company they work for and the income taxes on the often very bloated salaries of their managers.

    If we shifted our system away from rewarding wealth and toward rewarding work, all those people currently not paying income tax would be paying some and be very happy to do it.

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