Mitt Romney criticized over comments about taxes

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at Van Dyck Park September 13, 2012 in Fairfax, Va.

Another day, and the news cycle is still in love with these comments from Mitt Romney, from a private fundraiser back in May. The video was put out there by the magazine Mother Jones. Romney says 47 percent of Americans pay no net income tax -- ergo, they are predisposed to vote for President Obama.

We love to do the numbers here at Marketplace, so let's have a go at this one: According to Tax Policy Center, it’s actually “46.4” percent. About half these folks are poor, low-income or elderly. And the other half are mostly in the middle class.

Roberton Williams is a senior fellow at the center. He says many of those folks may not pay federal income tax. But that isn't the whole story.

"It’s very hard to avoid taxes, you buy a tank of gasoline, you pay a federal excise tax," Williams points out. "You buy cigarettes or tobacco, you pay federal excise tax. You fly in a airplane you pay those excise taxes. Those people do pay taxes."

All those people who head to work every day also has to pay "federal" taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

At a press conference late last night, Mitt Romney said he stands by his statement in video.

"It’s a question and answer as I recall about the process of the campaign and how I’m going to get the 51 or 52 percent I need, " Romney stated.

A 2010 AP-GFK poll found that about 27 percent of Americans who make under $30,000 -- many of whom probably don’t pay federal income tax -- identify as Republican.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...