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