Sorry, Mitt: 47% of Americans aren't freeloaders

'No one group is getting a free ride' in the current system, a new report finds, once a person's full tax burden is included.

By Aimee Picchi Apr 3, 2013 11:54AM

Image: Taxes (© Peter Gridley/Photographer)One-time presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stirred up a hornet's nest of opinion when he famously dismissed 47% of the country as a bunch of low-income freeloaders milking the tax system. 

But a new report from the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice says it has debunked Romney's assertion, noting that he was looking only at federal tax rates and ignoring the total tax burden on low-income families. 

"We've found that no one group is getting a free-ride and that the tax system overall is just barely progressive," the Citizens for Tax Justice said on Tuesday

Romney and others who assert that nearly half the country gets a free ride are referring to 2009 estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the group said. Those estimates showed that about 43.4% of Americans would have "zero or negative tax liability" that year, but they accounted for only federal personal income taxes, the CTJ said. 

When state and local taxes are included -- which is what Americans must deal with on top of federal taxes -- the picture is quite different. 

On that basis, the poorest 20% of Americans will be docked for 2.1% of total federal, state and local taxes, the CTJ found. But given that this segment of the population will receive only 3.3% of total income this year, their share of taxes isn't dramatically lower than their income, the group said. 

But the very rich are paying more than their share of total income, the report found. With this year's changes to the tax code, the richest 1% of Americans will pay 24% of the country's total taxes but are slated to receive 21.9% of total income. 

"In other words, the share of taxes paid by the richest Americans is slightly greater than their share of total income, but not dramatically so," the report notes. Nevertheless, that share is about 1% higher than it would have been if the government left the tax laws untouched, the study notes. 

That finding may help support another tax study, which found that the rich are actually paying federal tax bills approaching 30-year highs, as MSN moneyNOW reported last month.

Still, given that the top 1% of American earners have annual cash income of $1.46 million, those in the lowest 20% -- earning an average $13,500 per year -- probably won't shed many tears on their behalf. 

More on moneyNOW

Apr 3, 2013 12:10PM
I don't think he used the term "freeloader".  He made a valid point (not an opinion) by stating the fact that 47% of Americans are hooked into some form of federal program.  Without passing judgement of any kind, he simply stated that fact.  His point was that many of those 47% would likely vote out of fear (of cutbacks).  There are many who will vote in their own self-interest over voting for what is right in cases where the two conflict.  This observation in no way passes judgement, but when has that ever stopped the media? 
Apr 3, 2013 12:19PM
He did not dismiss them. He simply stated that they would not vote for him no matter what, because voting Obama would guarantee their continued government assistance,. It was, and is, TRUE!
Apr 3, 2013 12:20PM

Really MSN - "left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice", why don't you just state, "MSM is LEFT leaning and will SLANDER, MISLEAD, LIE or HIDE THE TRUTH."

Give me a break.....Mitt said NOTHING about freeloaders.. GET "YOUR" facts correct.

And yes almost HALF of America's citizen use or live off the Federal Tax system in some way.

"I want my free OBAMA phone" ...."I want my FREE OBAMA mortgage", this what LEFT leaning people were saying during the campaign....

Apr 3, 2013 12:30PM
"When the people find they can vote themselves money,
that will herald the end of the republic."--Ben Franklin.  No matter what percentage it actually is, the sad fact is they will probably want to keep things status quo...
Apr 3, 2013 12:04PM
The total number of FREELOADERS in our country is more than 47 %  !!  Mitt Romney was so right !! But his number was low !!  Your ARTICLE is so WRONG !!

One generation teaches the next to get on the govs. free hand outs. Instead of teaching their children and grandchildren how to develop a work ethic or how to interview for jobs, the elders teach how to sign up for SNAP cards and get section 8 housing.

Federal government dependency is the new slavery.

And the "Disabled" don't get me started! Romney was not going to convince these people no matter what. It was smart. It just was not smart to have it said out loud.


Obama- You have to vote him in to see who he is.

Apr 3, 2013 12:27PM

Actually the term freeloaders is so misleading. The 47% are actually ECONOMIC HOSTAGES.

The democommunist party believes in control of the populus for votes and will provide them with crumbs while the democommunists hold the loaf of bread.

Apr 3, 2013 12:12PM
But a new report from the LEFT-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice says...... need we say more.  I hope LEFT MSN doesnt block this also.  You only see what they "approve".
Apr 3, 2013 12:55PM
Saw a bumper sticker that said 'Obama Cares".  Another example of how stupid some are.
Apr 3, 2013 12:52PM
Hey azzhole liberal. That's not what he said. The truth is that over 47% of the population relies on the government to live, and those people are not going to vote for anyone who tells the truth and wants to clean up the mess.
Apr 3, 2013 12:48PM
Americans, as a rule, can't balance a checkbook let alone understand simple economics so
why even bother trying to explain it?  The FACT is, if you took ALL the money from the wealthy,
every cent, left them nothing, our moronic congress would waste it somewhere.
What angers me most, is the DELIBERATE effort, (getting more successful daily) ,to create
class warfare among our citizens.  This distracts us from the real culprits in D.C. who are 
robbing us blind, under the guise of "helping the less fortunate". 
Social security is nearly insolvent because our very own congress has been LOOTING it
for over 35 years. Taking money and putting in IOUs that they know damn good and well
there is no way to repay, without higher taxes or reduced spending. The overwhelming
majority of the current congress and congresses of the last 35-40 years should be in 
prison alongside Bernie Madoff, for the same ponzi scheme fraud that put him there. 
Prediction:  this nation WILL declare bankruptcy  inside of 30 years, bet on it!!!

Apr 3, 2013 12:21PM
Sorry, but the government is spending roughly 3.8 trillion.  Divided by 308 million Americans that makes each person's annual FAIR and EQUAL SHARE 12,337, or 49,350 for a family of 4....

If your family is not paying 49,350 in taxes to the Federal government this year, YOU are a freeloader.   What do you call someone that does not pick up their tab, but relies on someone else to do so?

Those that collect any form of payment from the government of course are digging the hole even deeper...  We have 47 million collecting from food stamps, 14 million disabled, etc...  

Sorry but the 47% are FREELOADERS, they vote for a living instead of working for one.

When they start paying their fair and equal share of the cost of government they can drop the moniker of "FREELOADER', until then if the shoe fits, wear it....
Apr 3, 2013 12:52PM
capn America is right on.  He never called anyone a freeloader.  Perhaps low income people should pay nothing according to the writer.  Then we can sit back and wait for more low income people.  If you build it they will come.
Apr 3, 2013 12:54PM

This is a ridiculous study - their methodology isn't presented, but I'm willing to bet they included Social Security and medicare taxes, which aren't really taxes at all. Ask anyone and they will say "I paid into Social security -therefore it's mine and I am entitled to it". That doesn't really constitute a "TAX"  it's really more like a mandatory savings account. A tax is when the money is taken from you and given to someone else or used for a common good (or not) project -FDA, FBI, Army -schools etc.


If you don't (and I don't) count Social Security as part of the "tax burden" then they (47%) literally pay nothing.


Oh - by the way very few 1% earners make $1.46 million annually - the numbers are skewed due to the Hundreds of millions the Zuckerbergs and Buffets make -most 1% are in the $500,000 range. Just sayin'

Apr 3, 2013 12:31PM
Apr 3, 2013 12:48PM
From reading what you say is in the report it seems to me that it supports Romney's statement. Your headline is incorrect and very misleading. A tease to get readers of course.
Apr 3, 2013 12:42PM

The number he used came from the IRS-good try though.




Apr 3, 2013 1:40PM
IRS stated that in 2011, "47% paid NO income taxes and many qualified for earned income
credits",  meaning they got gov't checks anyway.  That means that these people receive the
same benefits of all our infrastructure ie: schools, highways,security and all Fed. programs
without paying a dime in income tax!  That, in turn, means every one person who pays is
paying one other person's taxes too!  I don't particularly object to someone taking advantage
of the "system", I object to the system operating in that fashion. I believe that every citizen
should contribute something regardless of their income level. 
Apr 3, 2013 1:57PM

Typical left leaning study to only look at half of the equation. Great the poor pay 2.1% of total federal, state and local taxes. What they are forgetting to add to the other end of the calculation is how much they take from the system.


So they pay 2.1% in taxes but most get some or all of the following:


-"Free" (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) or subsidized food (food stamps, WIC, etc)

-I'm guessing this isn't taken into account but it might be. I am guessing they just show $0 liability to the IRS but some actually get a refund that exceeds what they paid in because they qualify for so many credits.

-"Free" (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) grants and need based scholarships for college.

-"Free" (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) or subsidized child care. I'll never forget the year my daycare manager handed me my tax form and said, "Woah, that's a lot." Yeah it is but that is what happens when you are the only one paying full price!!! (No, we are not rich but we are above the level for getting assistance and most people above that line rely on family or friends rather than daycare. We don't have family and are new to the area so no such luxury.)

-"Free" (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) health care


Lets face it. I could hit a character limit on this post long before I run out of "freebies" or subsidized benefits that the poor and lower middle class receive. By the time you factor in the benefits that they receive, it is WAAAAAAAAAY beyond the 2.1% they pay into the system. Which means yes, they are freeloaders. Actually, they are making money from the system so they are worse than freeloaders.


Meanwhile, the rich pay 24% in taxes and get $0 in return. They pay full price for everything as does the middle and upper portions of the middle class. Their kids don't get need based scholarships or grants even if their grades and ACT scores are much better. I know my parents weren't rich by any stretch but they did make more than that magic line so no grants and no need based scholarships. Just loans and cash.

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