The official U.S. Debt recently ticked up over 15 trillion dollars. At this writing, the official estimate of the total number of U.S. Citizens is 312,804,515. If you do the math, you will discover that officially then, the federal government of the United States of America has incurred about $48,000 of debt on behalf of every living American citizen.

For the 2010 tax year, there were a total of about 141,536,000 U.S. taxpayers. So if you calculate the official debt per taxpayer, it comes out to about $106,000. That literally means that officially speaking, if you are a U.S. taxpayer, you have been indebted by your government in the amount of $106,000.

I don’t know about you, but I simply refuse to be involuntarily encumbered in that manner. But wait, it gets worse. Much, much worse.

Lawrence J. Kotlikoff, a former senior economist on Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, has the following to say about the official U.S. debt:

“If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That’s the fiscal gap,” he says. “That’s our true indebtedness.”

Let’s re-do the calculations based on Kotlikoff’s estimated true U.S. debt. Based on $211 trillion, the total debt per U.S. citizen comes to about $675,000 and the total debt per U.S. taxpayer comes to about $1.49 million.

Pardon, but I have to repeat that last number in a way that it somehow seems less abstract. Based on Kotlikoff’s estimate of total U.S. indebtedness, every taxpaying citizen of the United States is on the hook for about ONE AND A HALF MILLION US DOLLARS.


Here are some data sources for this post:
A National Debt Of $14 Trillion? Try $211 Trillion
U.S. & World Population Clocks
Total Tax returns filed for 2010