The deadline for filing tax forms is today, so as the laggards labor to complete their returns, there's time to consider what this massive national exercise adds up to.
Contrary to popular belief, the United States has one of the most progressive income tax systems in the world.
Only 85 million of the 143 million Americans who filed tax forms last year actually paid taxes. Another 58 million filed but paid no taxes. Thanks to tax credits, many of them will receive a "refund" that is larger than the taxes withheld throughout 2011.
Some other facts on Tax Day, courtesy of the Tax Foundation:
* Last year, Americans paid $945 billion in federal income taxes.
* 46 percent of that money came from people who earned $250,000 or more.
* The top 20 percent of all earners paid 70 percent of the federal income taxes, but accounted for only 60 percent of pretax income.
* The effective income tax rate for people earning less than $50,000 a year was 3.5 percent.
* The effective tax rate for people making more than $50,000 was 14.1 percent, but their share of taxes paid was 93.3 percent.
* The effective tax rate for people making more than $250,000 was 23.4 percent. Their share of taxes paid was 45.7 percent.