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April 15th, 2010
04:27 PM ET

Why more Americans pay no income tax

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/15/tax.filing.statue.jpg caption="Craig Baldwin holds a sign advertising a tax preparation office for people that still need help completing their taxes before the Internal Revenue Service deadline on April 14, 2010 in Miami, Florida." width=300 height=169]

Scott A. Hodge
Special to CNN

If "taxes are the price we pay for civilized society," to quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., then April 15 is the day that bill comes due for every working American.

But that is no longer the case for a growing class of Americans for whom the price of civilized society has been reduced to zero because the tax code's generous credits and deductions completely erase their income tax liability.

And for many of these nonpayers, civilized society actually pays them a hefty refund, which is not much different from a welfare check except that it's run through the tax code instead of through the Department of Health and Human Services.

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