Nobody’s really talking about this slice of the pie, but Mitt Romney’s “47%” who pay no federal income tax include several thousand of the highest-income households in the country.
The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011. Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million.
So that’s 18,000 wealthy people who didn’t pay a cent in federal income tax. But Romney doesn’t mean for you to include them when he talks about people who don’t pay taxes. That’s just GOP code for people of color who are on welfare. But the truth is, actual welfare recipients are a tiny percent of those who don’t pay any taxes.
The vast majority of alleged non-taxpayers are the working poor who do pay federal payroll taxes even if they don’t make enough money at their jobs to pay income tax. They’re the elderly. The disabled. They’re soldiers in our military. These are the 47% that Republicans claim are mooching off your tax dollars.
In truth, everybody pays some taxes and the lower income groups pay almost as much as the rich:
But here is really the only tax graph you need: It’s total tax burden by income group. And as you’ll see, every income group is paying something, and the rich aren’t paying much more, as a percentage of their incomes, than the middle class.
That’s really what the American tax system looks like: Not 47 percent paying nothing, but everybody paying something, and most Americans paying between 25 percent and 30 percent of their income — which is, by the way, a lot more the 13.9 percent Mitt Romney paid in 2011*.
It’s also worth noting that the ranks of those who pay no income tax increased in recent years mainly due to Republican economic policies. Bush and Reagan pushed those policies in order to get their big tax breaks for the wealthy to pass. Indeed George W. Bush swelled those ranks when he expanded child care credits and the earned income tax credit programs. So it’s more than just a little disingenuous for Romney and Ryan to be trashing low income people and blaming President Obama for a situation their own party created.