Who Are the 47% of Americans Who Don't Pay Income Tax? (VIDEO)

Politics at Play 55

mother jones still from romney videoNow that Mitt Romney has had the Foot-in-Mouth Moment to end all Foot-in-Mouth Moments, I bet the only stat we'll be citing until Election Day (and likely, even after) will be "47 percent." After all, that's the percentage of Americans Romney said "are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax."

Can't believe I'm about to put these two words next to one another, but -- Romney's right ... about one thing: According to the Tax Policy Center, in 2011, 46.4 percent of American households paid no federal income tax. But let's explore WHO these Americans who he says won't "take personal responsibility and care for their lives" truly are ...

  1. People who don't make enough money will not qualify for income tax. (Duh.) Four of five households that do not owe federal income tax earn less than $30,000 a year. The Tax Policy Center elaborates: A couple with two children with an income of $26,400 had no income tax liability in 2011, due to an $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700 each. But, it bears noting, these people will still pay federal payroll taxes and state and local income taxes.
  2. Unemployed. If you're not making any income, you can't pay income tax.
  3. Underemployed. See #1.
  4. SAHMs. See #2.
  5. Americans on permanent disability. See #2.
  6. Some middle-income/middle-class are exempt. 12.8 percent who don't pay are those with incomes between $33,542 and $59,486.
  7. But higher-income earners are included here, too. 78,000 tax filers with incomes between $211,000 and $533,000 paid no income taxes; 24,000 households with incomes of $533,000 to $2.2 million paid no income taxes, and 3,000 tax filers with incomes above $2.2 million paid no income taxes.
  8. Seniors. The elderly -- who worked for years and then retired -- make up about one-fifth of all non-income tax payers. They benefit from the exclusion of some Social Security income.
  9. Certain parents. Some parents benefit from tax credits for children and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
  10. Republicans. Ironically, The Atlantic reports, 8 of the top 10 states with the highest number of non-payers live in red states.

More from The Stir: The 47% Responds to Mitt Romney in 15 Quotable Zingers

Here's the original clip/quote if you want to cringe all over again ...

Do these facts change how you feel about Romney's sweeping statement?

Image via MotherJonesVideo/YouTube

2012 election, economy, taxes, mitt romney


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

tbruc... tbrucemom

His wording could have been better but what he said is true.  The majority of the people that receive government assistance won't vote for him because when you say things like "tax cuts" it means nothing to them because they don't pay income taxes. Granted that percentage includes entitlements such as social security and veterans benefits and I don't believe they should be lumped together with the welfare entitlements. The bigger problem is welfare should be temporary. Everyone needs help at times, but there should be requirements built into it such as you can't receive ALL entitlements (public housing, food stamps, medicaid, plus a check every month).

Sam Felton

Please read the first article you are being manipulated by the media.
Where are the missing two minutes for the 47% video Mr. Carter?

nonmember avatar cjsmom

@tbrucemom, you are so right. when my husband first got laid off in 2006 from construction, I went and applied for food stamps, They required then, that I and my husband fill out at least 7 job applications, each, a week. Thankfully I found a job at a grocery store in a couple weeks, and have not needed the assistance since then. i work with people who are on assistance but they say you don't have to prove your trying to support yourself any more. what ever happened to having to try and show you are trying to support yourself?

nonmember avatar kevobx

Income tax is a bankers right, it is not a law of the constitution, neither apart of any admendments. Who wrote the laws of the land, the forefathers were free masons (satanic) who became shriners. These cave dwellers, tomb raiders, pillaging the land (*Hebrews 11:28)

nonmember avatar Kevobx

Where is the law written on the books for income tax? Deuteronomy 8:19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. (*Revelation 19:10 worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.)

pupuk... pupukeawahine

Those of you who say he only cares about money--sure he does, he's a business man, and was a pretty successful one at that.  We need that now--someone who is actually concerned with the bottom line, not all the B.S. we've been hearing and seeing the past few years.  Actual dollars and trying to move into the black (as opposed to red, or debt) will keep the country running, or we'll end up like Greece.  Riots in the streets and government shutting down?  Sure, he may be somewhat cutthroat and uncaring--so are many who make big companies run.  The U.S. government is huge and poorly run--if it were a business, they'd have gone out of business long ago; unfortunately we have to think like that now.  People complain all the time about how bad it is here--after living in various parts of the world my politics changed.  We're so spoiled and keep expecting government to provide, when we live in a country that is so much more free than others where we're giving more choices and opportunity to take care of ourselves.  Also--when is it OK to record a private conversation?  Whoever did that didn't have permission. 

nonmember avatar nay

I currently work 2 jobs, am going to school and have a 4 year old son. I pay every tax the government asks of me. But I do not make enough money (Im assuming) to pay this tax. Although I am going to school to ensure I can make more money in future jobs. I feel as though the government should help with job loss and literally no work for people who do have jobs. I have two and barely can make it since my bosses don't have much work coming in...and their taxes or off the charts! Why not help us provide for our children better, provide for our nation, be able to buy houses...all of that comes from a good economy,small Government or lower budget for the Government and work for us citizens! Oh and maybe stop piling on the taxes for small business owners seeing as they make up America!

nonmember avatar MO Mom

TinyPossum - I agree!

nonmember avatar kevobx

No man dares to ask the question, how did income tax become a law of the land? Show the American people the law document, for the makings of the income tax? Where is it written at

nonmember avatar Guest

I tried posting this before, not sure if there was some sort of technical glitch, or just too much truth for a liberal blog;

The numbers do not add up.

#1 "Four of five" and #8 "one-fifth" and #6 "12.8 percent" (though ambiguous if that is the percentage of those "who pay no tax" or the total.)

#7 "78,000 tax filers", "24,000 households", "3,000 tax filers" (which are different things, btw...)
78,000 + 24,000 + 3,000 = 105,000 = 0.034% = of the population, or insignificant to the point of invisibility in the rounding errors. Not part of your math problem.

#10 Really? You are trying to suggest that individual voters are comparable/indicative of/can be spun as/related to, the state wide vote totals? Or are you suggesting that every single person in those states has precisely the same income and votes precisely the same way? Some of us have a better than sixth grade education, (much more) let's not insult people's intelligence.

#6 is interesting "$33,542 and $59,486". Considering the median income is 40K, that is a lot of people who are making living to above average wages who are not paying.

At any rate, 2,3,4,5,6,8, and 9 are all subsets of #1, 7 is a tiny anomaly, and #10 is pure BS.


The more you make, the more you pay.

The less you make, the less you pay.

The roughly bottom half gets "free ride", yet still gets to vote how much the others pay, and how the money is spent.

31-40 of 55 comments First 23456 Last