Happy Cost of Government Day

Thursday, 19 Aug 2010 12:25 PM

By Grover Norquist

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From the ATR website.

Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate Cost of Government Day. This is the day on which the average American has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state, and local levels.

In 2010, Cost of Government Day falls on August 19. That means working people must toil 231 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In other words, the cost of government consumes 63.41 percent of national income.

Two years ago, Americans worked until July 16 to pay for the cost of government: all federal, state, and local government spending and regulatory costs. That government was too expensive and wasteful. Two years later, we work until August 19 for the same bloated government. We have lost an additional full month of our income to pay the cost of government in just the last two years.

Key findings of the report include:
  • Cost of Government Day (COGD) falls 8 days later in 2010 than last year’s revised date of August 11.
  • Workers will have to labor 104 days just to pay for federal spending, which consumes 28.6 percent of national income.
  • Taxpayers will have to work 52 days just to pay for state and local government expenditures.
  • The average American worker must labor 74 days to cover the costs of government regulations. A breakdown of the COGD components can be found here.
  • The report also includes a state breakdown. The earliest Cost of Government Day occurs in Alaska, on July 28. Connecticut has the latest COGD, on September 17.
  • One of the contributing factors to increased spending is the growth in government payrolls. The federal workforce totaled 4.4 million employees this year, while the addition of state and local workers brings the total government workforce to 24.315 million employees.
  • The report also tracks taxpayer migration, showing taxes are a driving component behind interstate movement. In 2008, the ten states with no income tax gained over 80,000 new residents who brought with them over $900 million in net adjusted income. In contrast, the states with the highest tax burden lost 129,445 residents and $10.2 billion in wealth.


Americans for Tax Reform is a non-partisan coalition of taxpayers and taxpayer groups who oppose all tax increases.

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