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What Are the 3 Most Collected Taxes by the US Government?

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The tax system in the United States is intricate, encompassing a wide array of taxes imposed at both the federal and state levels, as well as locally. However, three primary taxes stand out as the most collected by the US government: Income Tax, Payroll Tax, and Corporate Tax. Each tax type fulfills a vital role in financing government operations and public services. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore these three major types of taxes, how they are collected, and their impact on the economy. Additionally, we’ll provide insights on improving your financial health and share a valuable resource for those seeking credit repair counseling.


Income tax stands as the primary revenue source for the federal government, encompassing earnings from both individuals and businesses. In the United States, the income tax structure is progressive, meaning rates rise as income levels increase.

How Income Tax Is Collected

Income tax is collected through a combination of employer withholdings, estimated tax payments, and annual tax returns. Let's delve into the steps involved:

  • Withholding: Employers deduct a portion of an employee’s wages for federal income taxes and send this amount to the IRS. The withholding amount is based on the employee’s W-4 form, which specifies their filing status and the number of allowances they are claiming.

  • Estimated Payments: Self-employed individuals and those with significant income not subject to withholding must make quarterly estimated tax payments to cover their tax liabilities.

  • Tax Returns: Annually, taxpayers submit a Form 1040 to disclose their income, compute their tax obligations, and ascertain whether they owe additional taxes or are entitled to a refund.

Impact on Individuals and Businesses

Income tax affects both individuals and businesses in various ways:

  • Individuals: Income tax rates for individuals range from 10% to 37%, depending on income levels and filing status. Deductions and credits can significantly reduce taxable income, such as the standard deduction, itemized deductions, and a range of tax credits.

  • Businesses: Businesses pay income tax on their profits. Small businesses and sole proprietorships report income on individual returns, while corporations file separate tax returns and pay taxes at corporate rates.


Payroll tax is the second most significant source of revenue for the US government. Payroll taxes are collected from both employers and employees to fund essential programs like Social Security, Medicare, and other social insurance initiatives.

How Payroll Tax Is Collected

Payroll taxes are deducted from employees’ wages and matched by employers as part of their financial obligations. The main components include:

  • Social Security Tax: Levied at a rate of 6.2% on earnings up to a certain annual limit ($147,000 for 2022). Employers are also responsible for paying a corresponding 6.2% contribution.

  • Medicare Tax: Levied at a rate of 1.45% on all earnings, with no cap. Employers also pay a matching 1.45%. Additionally, there is a 0.9% surtax on earnings over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly, paid only by employees.

Impact on the Economy

Payroll taxes play a vital role in funding essential social insurance programs:

  • Social Security: Provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to millions of Americans.

  • Medicare: Offers health insurance coverage for individuals aged 65 and older, as well as certain younger individuals with disabilities.

These programs are critical for social welfare but also impose significant costs on both workers and employers, influencing employment decisions and wage structures.


Corporate tax is the third most significant source of federal revenue. It is levied on the profits of corporations. The corporate tax rate has undergone significant changes over the years, most recently with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

How Corporate Tax Is Collected

Corporations are required to file annual tax returns to report their income and calculate their tax liability. Key points include:

  • Taxable Income: Calculated by subtracting allowable business expenses, such as wages, cost of goods sold, and other operational costs, from gross income.

  • Tax Credits and Deductions: Corporations can reduce their taxable income through various credits and deductions, such as the Research & Development (R&D) tax credit and depreciation deductions.

Impact on the Economy

Corporate taxes have wide-ranging impacts on the economy:

  • Investment and Growth: Lower corporate tax rates can incentivize investment and economic growth, as businesses have more capital to reinvest in operations, research, and expansion.

  • Global Competitiveness: A competitive corporate tax rate can attract multinational corporations to set up operations in the US, contributing to job creation and economic development.

  • Revenue Generation: Despite reductions in the corporate tax rate, corporate taxes remain a critical source of government revenue.

The balance between taxation and economic growth is a critical consideration for policymakers. Higher taxes can provide necessary funding for public services and social programs but can also discourage investment and economic activity. On the other hand, reduced taxes can spur economic growth, though they must be managed prudently to avoid potential budget deficits.

Policymakers must consider various factors when designing tax policies:

  • Equity: Ensuring the tax system is fair and equitable, with wealthier individuals and profitable corporations paying their fair share.

  • Efficiency: Minimizing economic distortions caused by taxes, encouraging productive behavior, and maintaining a favorable environment for business operations.

  • Revenue Sufficiency: Generating adequate revenue to fund government operations and public services without imposing excessive burdens on taxpayers.

Tax Reform Efforts

Over the years, there have been numerous efforts to reform the US tax system. These efforts seek to streamline the tax system, eliminate loopholes, and promote fairness and efficiency in taxation. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 serves as a recent instance of tax reform focused on lowering rates and expanding the tax base.

Improving Your Financial Health

While understanding and complying with tax obligations is crucial, maintaining a good financial standing is equally important. One significant aspect of financial health is your credit score. A strong credit score can result in improved loan conditions, reduced interest rates, and enhanced financial prospects.


The three most collected taxes by the US government—Income Tax, Payroll Tax, and Corporate Tax—are essential for funding government operations and public services. Understanding how these taxes are collected and their impact on the economy can help you navigate your tax obligations more effectively. Additionally, focusing on your financial health, such as improving your credit score, can provide long-term benefits and financial security.

For more information about tax preparation software, please visit Cents Savvy SavvyTax Pro


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