Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

5 groups that don't pay taxes

While most of us pay at least something to Uncle Sam every year, some groups are exempt from federal taxes.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 22, 2011 4:09PM

This post is by Mark P. Cussen of


Every year, millions of Americans patiently wait for weeks to receive all of their necessary tax data in the mail, dutifully gather them together and prepare their returns, and wistfully contemplate what they could have done with the dollars that went to Uncle Sam and their state governments.


But not everyone is subject to this process; there are some groups of people in America who have been exempted from this process under our tax code.


If you're wondering when taxes were started, read The History Of Taxes In The U.S.)


There are five main categories of taxpayers that are lucky enough to escape the tax man.


Post continues below video.




Not-for-Profit Organizations

Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code dictates that any organization that qualifies to be classified under this section is exempt from paying income taxes of any kind. Qualifying organizations include religious, educational and humanitarian entities, such as churches, synagogues, universities, hospitals, the Red Cross, homeless shelters and other groups that seek to improve our society.


Foreign Citizens

Those who work or stay in America, but are not citizens or resident aliens, must generally file an income tax return with their country of origin instead of the IRS. This generally applies to employees of foreign companies who come to the U.S. to conduct business.


Low-Income Taxpayers


Anyone who does not receive income in any form that exceeds the combined amounts of their personal exemptions and standard deductions is exempt from taxation. Any amount of income received below this amount is tax-free. Those in this category can be grouped into one of three subcategories:

  • Unprofitable Business Owners: Those who incurred a net loss on their tax returns obviously don't owe any tax, since they have no declarable income. Many taxpayers who start new businesses can find some relief in this fashion, since they were not able to turn a profit in their primary endeavors.
  • Children and Other Dependents:Those who are claimed as dependents by another taxpayer usually aren't required to pay taxes themselves, because their incomes seldom exceed the combined exemption and deduction threshold.
  • People with Insufficient Income:Those who were not fortunate enough to generate sufficient income are exempt from taxation. The homeless, the downtrodden and the impoverished who receive less money than the exemption and deduction threshold are not required to pay taxes on the meager incomes they receive.

Taxpayers with Many Deductions

Some taxpayers are able to write off most or all of their taxable income with personal deductions. For example, someone who incurs a substantial medical bill may be able to claim this on Schedule A as an unreimbursed medical expense, which can drastically reduce their taxable income, possibly to the point where it falls below the taxable threshold.


Taxpayers with Many Dependents


Taxpayers who have several dependents may not owe any tax because of the number of dependency exemptions they claim, plus the child tax credits that they are entitled to.


For example, a couple with six children will be able to reduce their taxable income by $29,200 in 2010 (8 x $3,650), the personal exemption amount for 2010. Any remaining tax liability will then be reduced by both the child tax credit ($2,000) and the additional child tax credit (amount will vary). But this couple could conceivably earn around $50,000 and not owe any actual tax, depending upon their situation. (For more on how an average person can reduce taxes, check out 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions.)


The Bottom Line

Although some taxpayers are automatically exempted from taxation by default, such as 501(c)3 organizations, it is also possible to exempt yourself from taxation by incurring substantial deductions and/or reducing your income accordingly. Although it is not always wise to let your tax tail wag your financial dog, reducing your income below the taxable threshold will always feel good, come tax time.


More from Investopedia and  MSN Money:


Apr 26, 2011 9:53AM
There are some pretty inane statements in this article.  Feel good about paying no Fed tax by reducing your income?  You have got to be kidding me.  My wife and I both work and though our combined pay is less than 6 figures, our tax liability is still 5 figures (we use the standard deduction and have no dependents).  Now if we cut our income to about $18K/yr, we could eliminate our tax liability, boy, would we ever be better off.  Isn't there an old saying about cutting your nose off to spite your face? 
Apr 26, 2011 8:59AM
Churches are the bigest business in many towns around here.  Why they away not paying taxes is beyond me.  
Apr 27, 2011 1:24AM

When money is withheld from paychecks every two weeks that's an income tax.  When corporations pay no income tax, park their  money offshores-that's no income tax.  When hedge fund CEO's earn 6-7 billion and pay income tax on a $200,000 salary and the rest

(stock options, dividends, bonuses, capital gains) at 15% and invest all around the world eccept in this country, that's avoiding paying taxes based upon their ability to influence the tax writing committees in Congress-both Democrats and Republicans.


Here is a thought...Fair Tax...then everybody pays for the services that everyone uses.


Also, I think we should air Political debates and political information and education shows on every single channel on TV and every radio station instead of TMZ or EXTRA. The problem with this country isn't just the people in political office, it's the uneducated and misinformed people who elect them. We ALL know that GOVERNMENT schools do not provide adequate education in politics and finance for our kids, however, I guarantee you that 99% of people in this country couldn't tell you who their state legislators are. So maybe we should force this education on EVERYONE so that we as a society can make better decisions on the most important issues together.


Final thought: I hate the fact that you can pull a lever and vote all democrat or all republican down the ballot when you vote. That is part of the reason you get these idiotic politicians in office to begin with. Do away with the party titles and let's vote for someone for what they believe in and the things they want to accomplish, not because of the political party they belong to. Red state, blue state, it's all a bunch of garbage.


We as Americans need to learn to be responsible for our decisions and stop depending on the government to do everything for us. Believe that you yourself can do a better job than anyone else!

Apr 25, 2011 9:45PM
actually, foreigners generally do pay if they work in the US. for example, international students working on campus pay federal taxes, even though exempt from social security and medicare (they dont benefit from those things anyway). get facts straight please
Apr 28, 2011 3:41AM



I guess those  much abused and reviled  guys on H1b and  L1 visa pays tax  .It is cut from their pay and this guys generally dont  get any  benifits .

Apr 26, 2011 4:05PM
I guess those folks that don't pay "federal taxes" also never purchase gasoline or heating oil and don't use telephones or electric/gas utilities and never pay any Federal excise taxes on air travel or any of the other hidden taxes WE ALL PAY!
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