By now you've heard that Mother Jones magazine outed Romney for his rather callous and off-the-mark comments about the 47 percent of Americans who allegedly pay no income tax. If you haven't seen it already, here's video, which was secretly taped at a fundraiser for Romney at the Boca Raton (sigh) home of private equity manager Marc Leder.
Everyone's talking about the insensitivity and out-of-touch nature of the remarks themselves, but who are these alleged 47 percent, whom Romney characterized as shiftless and insistent on living off the government? According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., an estimated 52 million Americans didn't pay taxes in 2008 – not necessarily because they're lazy and refuse to work, but often because they don't make enough money, or have enough tax deductions, to mitigate any tax liability.
According to the latest IRS figures for 2008, a record 52 million filers—36 percent of the 143 million who filed a tax return—had no tax liability because their credits and deductions reduced their liability to zero. Indeed, tax credits such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit have become so generous that a family of four earning up to about $52,000 can expect to have their income tax liability erased entirely.
There were also millions who make so little money that they aren't even required to file a return. The Tax Foundation created this map that shows where the bulk of Romney's alleged non-paying Obama supporters live – as the Atlantic magazine points out, a lot of them just so happen to live in very red states.