Recently introduced video shows Mitt Romney claiming that 47% of Americans pay no income tax and are willingly dependent on the largess of the government to get through life without any personal responsibility and imitative.
Several years ago, when the GOP first latched onto this 47% number, I did a little research and quickly discovered the truth doesn’t represent what they claim. Alone it is just a number and does add fuel to their claim that America is becoming a welfare society.
I printed out five pages of data explaining the number and contradicting the claims being made by the Tea Party foot soldiers who were throwing this number around in the coffee shops as if they were lobbing mortar shells into the air. It was to no avail as most didn’t bother to read it and just kept dropping shells into their launching tubes.
The 47% argument hasn’t disappeared and now dominates the news cycle because of what Romney said in what he thought was the safe harbor of a high-dollar private fund-raiser. He still hasn’t learned there is no such thing as privacy these days, just ask the future queen of England.
But, now that everyone is talking about the 47% I decided to offer just a little information about what is included or makes up this percentage. It is true, almost half the people in America don’t pay federal income tax but there are reasons that go far beyond the claim of them being lazy slackers who are struggling to become permanently attached to the teat of the government’s Jersey herd.
61% of those non-payers are either working at jobs which pay too little to obligate them or they qualify for legal tax exemptions that reduce their taxable income low enough to exempt them from income taxes. The main point here is that they are working people, they have jobs, they are not the imagined parasites conservative zealots claim them to be. These people are doing exactly what we all want them to be doing, they’re trying to pay their own way in life.
Furthermore, these working 61% do pay taxes. They pay state and local taxes, payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), property taxes, sales taxes, fuel taxes, and what ever other taxes we are obligated to. Plus, since these people are typically the working-poor, it is more difficult for them to pay all these taxes than it is for those in Mitt Romney’s middle-class that begins at “$200,000” a year.
The next grouping, 22%, is the elderly. These are the people who worked all their lives and are now living off meager savings and a modest Social Security check. I would suggest these are not the well-heeled retirees living in Florida’s, The Villages. These are retired blue-collar workers who do not have enough investment income to qualify them for income taxes.
Comprising the remaining 17% are the unemployed, the disabled, students, and people serving on active combat duty in the military. I’m sure it also includes some people who are in fact playing the system and firmly attached to the government cow. But, please notice that these leeches would only make up a very small part of the total pie.
Another interesting bit of info has to do with state and local taxes. Guess who pays the larger percentage? Hint, it isn’t the job creators. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the bottom 20% of Americans paid 12.9% of their 2011 incomes in state and local taxes while the top 1% paid only 7.9%. The rich just catch-all the breaks!
The states with the largest number on non-payers of income taxes are in the deep South and are bright red in political terms. They are the states where the GOP has been the strongest in recent elections. I’m just wondering if any of those Southern working poor, college students, military personnel, disabled, and large number of retirees will notice that Romney just trashed them? That he just portrayed them as slug like creatures sucking the life blood out of the job creators who are really paying the bills for America.