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New IRS statistics show 7,389 federal tax returns with $200,000 or more in adjusted gross income reported no federal income taxes in 2005. That's a 161% jump from the 2,833 comparable returns filed in 2004.
Additionally, 4,224 of the over-$200,000 earners reported no worldwide income tax liability on their 2005 returns, the IRS data show. That represents a 75% increase from the 2,420 comparable returns filed in 2004.
The data are the most recent available from the IRS. It shows a rising number
Under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, Washington also allowed taxpayers to eliminate up to 100% of their alternative minimum tax liability by using credits for any foreign taxes paid. Before tax year 2005, those credits could only eliminate 90% of federal income taxes.
High-income earners — guided by accountants and tax advisers — reacted swiftly to the change, which remains in effect. In 2004, IRS data show they reported $16.6 million in foreign tax credits. The following year, the total credits claimed soared to $447.3 million.
He and other tax specialists said they were unsure whether the no-taxes-paid trend is likely to accelerate. But they offered greater assurance that federal officials anticipated the likely outcome of the tax law changes.
"My sense of it is that the people who introduce these provisions know exactly who is going to benefit," Gleckman said.