Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you likely already know that Mitt Romney created a bit of an uproar when, behind closed doors, he suggested that because 47% of all Americans pay no income tax, they will vote Democratic “no matter what;” the theory being that Romney’s proposals to cut income tax cannot resonate with a group that pays no income tax.
Now, obviously, there’s no way to link tax filings to voter records to test the accuracy of Romney’s statement, but we can learn a bit more about who comprises this tax-indifferent 47 percent. And to that end, the Tax Policy Center’s got us covered with Five Myths About the 47 Percent.
Among the more interesting tidbits:
- The TPC estimates that of the 47% percent, only 0.1% earn income in excess of $200,000. That would indicate that fewer taxpayers are “gaming the system” than some would have you believe.
- Rather, the vast majority of people who pay no federal income tax have low earnings, are elderly or have children at home. Furthermore, fewer than half of individuals in households with incomes below $30,000 voted in 2008, compared with about 60 percent of people with higher incomes. And because these lower income taxpayers do — when they vote — tend to vote Democratic, it appears Romney may actually benefit, rather than suffer, from this tax-indifferent — and apparently — election-indifferent — portion of the population.
- Many of the taxpayers who pay no income tax are not the beneficiaries of Democratic “safety net” legislation, but rather bipartisan efforts to help those in need. For example, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both favored the earned-income tax credit (EITC), which has helped millions of families stave off poverty.