Myth: 47% of Americans pay no taxes. The notion that nearly half the population of pays no taxes is often repeated by Republican politicians and pundits. It was most famously popularized by Mitt Romney in a closed door fundraiser that was caught on video by a caterer who was among the millions of hardworking Americans that Mitt Romney described as “dependent upon government,” who “believes they are victims” and who feel “entitled” to health care, food and housing.
- The 47% statistic only refers to people who do not pay federal income taxes, not people who don’t pay taxes at all. Nearly everybody pays state taxes, such as sales tax.
- The number of people who don’t pay federal income taxes is actually 43% now, not 47%.
- Most people who don’t pay federal income tax do pay federal payroll taxes. Only 14.4% pay no federal taxes at all
- Of that 14.4% who pay no federal taxes, 9.7% are elderly, leaving only 4.7% who are working-age Americans paying no federal taxes
- Overall, people in the bottom 20% pay 19% of their income to taxes and people in the top 1% pay 33%
- Although the rich do pay higher taxes at the federal level, the poor pay more of their income to state taxes than the rich in every state.