Get our issue, highlights, free stuff and more.  

Where are the 47 percent who Romney says don’t pay taxes?

September 18, 2012

By now you’ve heard that Mother Jones magazine outed Romney for his rather callous and off-the-mark comments about the 47 percent of Americans who allegedly pay no income tax. If you haven’t seen it already, here’s video, which was secretly taped at a fundraiser for Romney at the Boca Raton (sigh) home of private equity manager Marc Leder.

Everyone’s talking about the insensitivity and out-of-touch nature of the remarks themselves, but who are these alleged 47 percent, whom Romney characterized as shiftless and insistent on living off the government? According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., an estimated 52 million Americans didn’t pay taxes in 2008 – not necessarily because they’re lazy and refuse to work, but often because they don’t make enough money, or have enough tax deductions, to mitigate any tax liability.

According to the latest IRS figures for 2008, a record 52 million filers—36 percent of the 143 million who filed a tax return—had no tax liability because their credits and deductions reduced their liability to zero. Indeed, tax credits such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit have become so generous that a family of four earning up to about $52,000 can expect to have their income tax liability erased entirely.

There were also millions who make so little money that they aren’t even required to file a return. The Tax Foundation created this map that shows where the bulk of Romney’s alleged non-paying Obama supporters live – as the Atlantic magazine points out, a lot of them just so happen to live in very red states.

The Obama campaign got on Romney’s case about this quick and responded with this map, which comes from‘s Facebook page:





Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  • taxman

    In 2011, 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.

  • jstrout

    Those seem like shocking figures, Taxman. And they are outrageous – also, source please? – until you figure that’s in total, oh, around 0.00035% of all Americans. Romney’s not making broad statements about all kinds of folk. He’s saying he hates the poor. No way around it. (0.0007% of all tax filers, btw)

  • Bill Johnson

    tax man liberal loser liar liar tell the truth odumbo is not working.

  • julius rosen

    According to Democrats : tax deductions are LOOPHOLES ..According to Republicans – these are tax codes for the social good .
    IE housing mortgage costs and charity . Obviously not all 3,000 -10,000 lines of tax code help everybody .

  • julius rosen

    Obama , even if you get to tax the 1% a higher rate it only brings in $80 Billion a year . Where will you cut the other 900 Billion to get a balanced budget ?