Defending the 47 Percent Who Pay No Taxes  

December 7, 2011

You may have heard by now that about 47 percent of those filing tax returns in 2009 paid no federal income tax, according to a report by the Tax Policy Center.  Even Michelle Bachmann recently said in a Republican debate that everyone should pay some taxes, even if it is only $10 (the cost of two “Happy Meals,” as she put it) per year.

Many on the radio and internet have been talking about how everyone needs to pay some federal income taxes, that everyone needs to have some “skin in the game.”

What seems to be overlooked is the fact that most of those 47 percent are poor people with very little income, especially families with children.  A man and woman, each making $7-12 per hour will most likely pay very little or no federal income taxes.  This is especially true if they have a couple of kids and qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, etc.

And there are a lot of workers in the US who are trying to get by on very modest wages.  In 2010, almost 32 million employees made $10.65 or less per hour.  And 12.7 million of those were making $8.51 or less per hour.  (Try planning a budget on $8 per hour.)  And a lot of these working poor do pay some taxes, such as Social Security payroll taxes, sales tax, etc.

But, to say that these American workers should pay some taxes, because they have no “skin in the game” is absurd.  These poor working people have a lot more than “skin” in the “game.”  They have their arms, legs, and body up to their neck in the so-called “game.”  These working poor are barely keeping their heads above the water, trying to get by until the next paycheck.

These working poor often live without health insurance or savings, praying that they don’t have to repair their old car or have a medical emergency.  And this is their one and only life (unless you believe in reincarnation).  They are stuck in their present low-paying job, with no hope for a better job or a wage increase in our declining economy.

Most of these 47 percent who pay no income taxes are the American workers who are having their lives ripped apart by the destruction of our economy by the big corporations and their political lackeys.  Instead of making $20-25 per hour in a factory job, many are making only $8-10 per hour in some service job.

Those running the “game” have sent thousands of our factories and millions of our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, in an effort to increase corporate profits.  And the American workers who are being left behind to struggle in a declining economy, are now being criticized for not paying any federal income taxes.

Well, if someone is only earning $8 per hour, but could be earning $24 in a factory job that was sent to China, then that worker is the one paying a huge “opportunity lost” tax of $16 per hour or 67 percent!

No, Ms. Bachmann, I don’t think that someone making $8 per hour should have to pay any more.  They are already paying too much because of the “game” being run by the big corporations and the politicians.

One Response to Defending the 47 Percent Who Pay No Taxes

  1. Boris K on December 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Frank, this is a good article and deals with the very heart of America: no respect for an honest worker – producer; people are only admired for how much money they are able make. That’s why we have a Wall Street type economy; they produce nothing, but through wheeling and dealing are able to amass millions or even billions, as well as become role models for millions of Americans.

    When I was growing up in the USSR, we, as children, were taught to respect and celebrate an honest work – whatever it may be. Yes, the country’s leaders were “high” on a decaying ideology, but an average person new the difference between honest toil and that of a speculation, which by the way was illegal there.

    When I talk to Americans, who were born and raised here, about the unfairness that people in a fast food or retail, and many other industries, are making inadequate wages and suggest that maybe we should pay a quarter more for a sandwich to ensure that people behind the counters are able to pay a rent and provide food for their families, I get a silent look of disbelief at best; but more often I get struck by the anger in people’s responses toward these “lazy and stupid” folks, just because apparently they are not afflicted by the greed bug that is so vehemently venerated in America.

    America is the only nation where an honest 40-hours-a-week work will earn you “lazy and stupid” label.

    From my early days in the Soviet Union, I learned one thing: people deserve the rulers they have.
    If you wish to live in a better society, maybe you should address the individuals with lessons of right and wrong and suggest that much of what terrible we see in this country is a result of our personal choices; but it is always easier to blame the rulers.


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