As we head into the last six weeks prior to the November Presidential election, Mitt Romney's secretly recorded comments to very wealthy donors regarding the "47%" of Americans who pay no federal income taxes have become the latest talking point of the campaign. Romney went on to say, "I'll never convince them [47%] they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives".
Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin tweeted, "This election is about America's makers vs. America's takers." She insinuated that the "47%" are takers.
Ann Romney says her husband's comments were taken "out of context".
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina stated this about Mitt Romney, "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation".
So just who are the "47%" of the people that pay no federal income tax? Are they lazy slugs who depend on the government for assistance as some may suggest? Are they all Obama supporters?
The non-partisan Tax Policy Center (http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/250029-tax-policy-center-analysis-details-the-47-percent) has done an intriguing analysis of who these people are.
Some of the highlights from that analysis:
1. About half of the "47%" pay no federal income tax because they earn less than $26,400. This would describe the income tax return of a family with two children.
2. About one-third of the "47%" are either seniors or low income working families with children that get specific tax breaks (elderly credit, child care credit, etc.)
The Tax Policy Center estimates that 90% of the "47%" earn less than $50,000 per year. Some higher income earners may also qualify for no federal income tax through itemized deductions. A small percentage of millionaires also pay zero income taxes through preferences such as tax-free interest from state and local bonds.
Of course, the "47%" most likely pay sales taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes (either through ownership or rent), fuel taxes, etc. and thus are contributing in some form.
I would suggest that probably about half of the "47%" are or were Romney supporters as our country is split mostly 50/50 on political lines. Clearly a significant part of Romney's base is seniors who he appears to unknowingly dismiss.
Will this misstep cost Romney the election? Was it a misstep? Is this "class warfare"? Romney believes it is the simple truth.
Do you agree with the suggestion that 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax are "takers"? My opinion is most are working stiffs, elderly, and students who are just struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy.