Where is America headed if nearly half of us pay no federal income tax?
February 23rd, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Where is America headed if nearly half of us pay no federal income tax?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Republican Party resembles a circular firing squad.

Republicans may manage to lose an election they could win - against a weakened incumbent in a troubled economy - which is why many in the party are dissatisfied with the state of the GOP race for president and the remaining candidates.

There's Mitt Romney, who's been running for six years, has all the money in the world and still can't get the party to line up behind him. Newt Gingrich seems to have done himself in after a couple of spikes of momentum. Ron Paul has rabid supporters, just not enough of them to make a difference.

And of course, Rick Santorum, the current flavor of the month - who has a history of controversial comments, including about Satan, and lost his own U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania by double digits.

It's no wonder that some Republicans are still looking for a savior.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the top choice of Republicans if there winds up being a "brokered convention." Christie - who gets 32% support - is followed by former Govs. Sarah Palin and Jeb Bush at 20% and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels at 15%.

One of the reasons that a lot of people like Christie is because he's such a straight talker. Most recently, he told Warren Buffett to "just write a check and shut up." Gotta love it.

Christie is a Romney supporter who insists he's not interested in running himself. Too bad. You could put the Christie-Obama debates on pay-per-view and retire the national debt.

Other Republicans who might still jump into the race include Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Here’s my question to you: Where is America headed if nearly half of us pay no federal income tax?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Jeff in Minnesota:
As one of those who pays and seems to pay a lot, I'm very frustrated that many people and corporations pay nothing. And a lot of those people and corporations not paying make a lot more than I do and have a lot more wealth than I do. I work hard for my money, it was not given to me. I realize that the government needs money to run, but why is that burden on such a small few with everyone else getting a free ride? That is what has to change and that is what is driving people nuts.

Brad in Portland, Oregon:
Nearly half of Americans pay no income tax because THEY'RE LIVING IN POVERTY. They have just barely enough money to live on. And they're still paying payroll tax, property tax, sales tax, and many other taxes. The 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom HALF of the American people COMBINED. If you want to tax people and actually generate real revenue, you need to go where the money is. And that's not in the bottom half of the population.

Janne in North Carolina:
Those of us who pay taxes are going to become more and more resentful of those who do not. Especially when we are constantly ridiculed by the administration that we are not doing enough. How much is enough??!! The president is going to get that class warfare that he wants but it may come as a surprise when it comes from the top.

DT in St. Paul, Minnesota:
I've never understood this concern, but maybe it’s because I allow myself to see the truth. Half of us pay no taxes. True. Half of us also have NO MONEY. If you don't want to distribute the wealth evenly, how does it make sense to try and distribute the tax burden evenly?

Tom in New York:
Probably China. They have the jobs we were promised.

Posted by
Filed under: Taxes • United States
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. ranch111

    We are headed to Greece.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  2. Elizabeth From Toronto

    What, that's a shocker! Same place that Greece and Italy are now.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Wm in PA

    Simple – most of us do NOT make enough money.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  4. Wm in PA

    Headed: full 3rd word status, where some of us already are.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  5. Gary Fuls Sr

    Half the people pay no tax,because they don't even make the min.amount of $$ to qualify to pay taxes,or they are on SSI Before this elect. is over the repubs are going to find a way to punish these people for being too poor!

    February 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  6. tom bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    It depends on the make-up of non-taxpayers. If it is people on the bones of their arse, you can't get blood out of a stone, so America isn't headed anywhere. If you're talking about the millionaires and billionaires, and they continue to get a free ride, we're going down the gurgler.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Russ in PA

    Hey, don't you like the thought of becoming the ultimate welfare/warfare state, with those dastardly rich people supporting the rest of the citizens of the world? Looks like all you people that went to public school are learning just what democracy really means: mob rule, where politicians get to pick and choose winners, and throw out crumbs to the working class in order to keep the illusion of prosperity and freedom. The actions of our government over the past 100 years or more – such as the founding of the FED and the failure of politicians to follow the rule of law – have mired us in debt and serfdom. Welcome to the 21st Century.

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    February 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  8. Metalworker

    I think a better question would be, why in the USA do so many earn so little that they cannot afford to pa income tax while so few are doing so well and pay so little.
    If someone earning 200.00 per week and pays $25.00 a week in income tax, well they may not eat for a part of the week.
    If someone earning $5,000 a week payes $500 in income taxes he gives up nothing and one might ask is he tryly worth that much?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  9. David R Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Jack,each and every person should pay something even if its only 10 bucks.EVERY person should have a stake in
    their country should have skin in the game.If we do not fix the tax system and pay the debt we are headed for a very
    bad fall from grace.Get rid of the loop holes and lower the base and that is what you pay.You simply can not have huge
    companies like GE paying nothing and then get a rebate on nothing..................its crazy Jack.The fat cats in congress
    know this very well but will not fix it BECAUSE.............it does not serve them.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  10. JD in NH

    True story: I went to the accountant's office this morning to pick up my tax returns. My tax rate is about 20% greater than what Mitt Romney pays. I owe several thousand dollars and will send it in with the knowledge it will be sent back out in subsidies to big oil companies that pay zero in taxes. So . . . don't talk to me about poor people not paying taxes.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  11. Jack

    Greece, Jack ,that is where we are headed. With neither party really worried about the debt. Greese.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  12. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    Which half are you talking about? The poor or the wealthy? The fact that half of Americans pay no income tax as much a reflection on the economy and our system of wealth distribution as it is of tax policy. How can people pay taxes if they have no money? And how can you expect them to pay taxes when the wealthy don"t have to?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Gerry

    Were headed to Italy and then to Greece and our ultimate destination to Iceland. If this doesn't describe our path to the pitts nothing will. We can thank our politicians and the bankers on both sides of the aisle for this one.

    Ash Fork, Az.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  14. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    Haven't you asked this one before? And are you referring to the multi-billion dollar profit corporations like GE?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  15. Tom in Desoto, TX

    To the highest bidder or the country will be foreclosed on by China and other holders of our debt. More tax cuts anyone?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  16. Jenna Roseville CA

    Where is America headed if nearly half of us pay no federal income tax?

    So are you claiming that more than 175 MILLION Americans do not make enough money to pay taxes Jack? That seems a bit extreme. Even for you.

    How about the wealthy pay the same rate that they did under Reagan or Clinton. How about the Corporations pay something verses paying NOTHING.

    How about getting Americans back to work as a priority verses Birth Control and Abortion and Gay Marriage?

    Roseville CA

    February 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  17. Charles, Lansing, Michigan

    In third world countries the rich and the poor don't pay taxes. That is where the United States is headed.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  18. Pete in Georgia

    Jack, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We ain't seen nuthin yet.
    Socialism, with a strong dose of class warfare is ruining what was the envy of the world.
    May she rest in peace.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  19. Annie, Atlanta

    We're already there, in a world of hurt. Half of us don't even make enough money to live other than hand to mouth, or with assistance. Yet the rich are doing better than ever, the CEOs salaries have doubled several times over the last couple of decades. All is well, as long as the rich are doing well. Isn't that the propaganda we've been fed for those same decades?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  20. Connie from Logansport,IN.

    Cayman Island.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  21. Kevin in CA

    The same place we've been heading for over a decade now – income parity with China and India.

    February 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  22. Terry Wells -Hoosier Hillbilly-Greensburg,IN

    Rick Santorum said Satan is attacking America. Is he right?
    Rick Santorum said Satan(government) is attacking Americas taxpayers. Is he right?

    As they'd say in Australia, "No worries mate!" Jack as-soon-as "WE" (what's left of taxpayers) run out of money
    there'll be no government, without them "WE" should be able to make a full recovery!!!

    That could happen within the next four years which would leave Obama holding the bag??? =If he's not he better
    because that's the *target*! It'd be a real nut-buster for sure! ((double meaning))

    February 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  23. Bill of New Mexico

    With half paying no taxes!

    Where is America headed?

    To forcing the world to do to America–what the world did to Greece!

    February 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  24. bytehead

    The first trouble I have with this is that even if a working person pays no federal income tax, they are still paying Social Security and Medicare taxes.

    The second trouble I have with this is what is the root cause that makes it true? Is it politicians constantly cutting taxes, is it the fact that wages aren't even beginning to keep up with inflation, a combination, or something altogether different?

    February 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  25. Rich McKinney, Texas

    It is not so much the amount of taxes paid. It is the amount of money spent by the government that is the problem. The United States has always spent more then it has taken in since world war 2. It has done nothing significant in 60 years to pay that debt off. If America were to take every dollar in the U.S. Treasury and from each and every bank and person in America and hand it over to the government today, it would not be enough to pay off the debt. That is how serious the problem has become.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  26. Kenneth in California

    I don't know but would ask, Where is America headed if nearly half of us pay no federal income tax, and the wealthy one percent manage to loop hole out of their 1040's..

    February 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  27. Bill in Ottawa, Canada

    The same place it has been headed for the last twenty years. The obvious inability of Amercians to face reality plus the complete purchase of the political system by the uber rich has rendered the country paralyzed. Government by the well funded, for the well funded and sending your workforce to sell fries and unload ships from the far east isn't a winning strategy.

    If you truly want to turn things around, remove money from elections, make cheap foriegn goods expensive by duties, accept the fact you need to damage the planet to be competitive, stop policing the world and stop spreading "freedom" (in the form of taxpayer dollars spent). If you intelligently downsize your military, stop letting insurance, banking and the medical professions dictate policy you may have a chance at recovery. Breaking the addition to cheap goods is hard, but becoming a third world country by inaction is harder.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  28. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    America is definitely headed towards a significant fundamental overhaul of our tax system which should and will include addressing the inequities currently enjoyed by the top 1 percent income earners and the numerous tax benefits enjoyed by segments of corporate America who have little loyalty to the national economic welfare of this great country.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  29. Brad, Portland, OR

    Another Republican talking point.

    Nearly half of Americans pay no income tax because THEY'RE LIVING IN POVERTY. They have just barely enough money to live on.

    And they're still paying payroll tax, property tax, sales tax, and many other taxes.

    The 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom HALF of the American people COMBINED. That's roughly 200 million people.

    If you want to tax people and actually generate real revenue, you need to go where the money is. And that's not in the bottom half of the population.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  30. DT - Saint Paul, MN

    I've never understood this concern, but maybe its because I allow myself to see the truth. Half of us pay no taxes. True. Half of us also have NO MONEY. If you don't want to distribute the wealth evenly, how does it make sense to try and distribute the tax burden evenly? Also, people making low wages don't realize that income the same way wealthy people do. There is a cost of living before you have any liquid income. Low-earners are taxed incredibly disproportionate on their liquid income. Mitt Romney was taxed at 14% last year, not the bracket rate of 35%. When these guys complain about the high taxes, and how high it is relative to the rest of the world, make sure you remember their effective tax rate.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  31. David in Tampa

    Dear Jack, if you work you pay taxes. Many hard working Americans either make so little or have families, and thus more deductions, that they get back all they have paid in. I resent the idea that many low income workers don't pay taxes, are lazy, or ignorant. Maybe our political figures and business types need a refresher course on living pay check to pay check, and busting your ass for minimum wage. Where we are heading is the same place all high flying cultures eventually end up, it's called crash and burn.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  32. Jane in CA

    It means that half the people in this country are not earning enough money to survive on like human beings. If you want people to pay taxes, make sure they have jobs that pay something more than less than the minimum it takes to survive. Create economic incentives to bring good paying jobs back in this country. And severely punish those who export jobs. Then you will get a working class of people who can afford to pay taxes and feed their children at the same time.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  33. Leta

    Bankruptcy – Common sense dictates if more money coming out and little revenue coming in.
    Definitely unsustainable. Reforming America's federal tax system should be addressed.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  34. Gordo from NJ

    You already asked this exact same question within the past few months It means the middle income Americans who were once middle class no longer earn enough to pay income taxes. The top earners are sucking up all the money.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  35. Dan in Albuquerque

    Jack, I think those figures include millions of Social Security and unemployed people who do pay taxes on that income. Nevertheless, we all know something has to be done to make Social Security and health care are available to everyone for the forseeable future. We must begin by raising the eligibility age for Social Security and fighting efforts to kill the Affordable Health Care law, while compromising on adjustments to it after it takes effect in 2 years.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  36. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Hopefully, toward some kind of Value Added Tax, both a direct one that shows on reciepts and a hidden one that businesses pay that is used to distribute credits – like a rather robust refundable child tax credit so that the VAT does not sting. Poor people should not have to file taxes at all to get decent tax credits, since most "taxpayer services" are fronts for high interest refund anticipation loans. GOP polilticians who bemoan how few people pay taxes forget the fact that they do so because of tax credits enacted by Republicans.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  37. Joe B.

    Jack: I dont expect everyone to pay federal tax. If you only make 20,000 a year I dont expect you to pay federal tax. But if you make 200,000 I expect you to pay something. Would their be anything wrong with everyone paying 25%. It would be a tax decrease for people making under 200,000 and yes the unthinkable people making over 200,000 would now have pay something. And the 25% would be for any way you receive your salary through stocks,bonds,or any other way the money ends up in your pocket.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  38. Nick Ohley

    Ron Paul says, "We are half way there." And I agree with him. The income tax, and Federal Reserve both coincide with the decade of total war. Coincidence? I think not.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  39. David in Northern Virginia

    I'm so tired of hearing about this. Everyone who works pays payroll taxes, sales taxes, use taxes, etc. True, the very poor do not pay income taxes, but that's a very different thing than saying they pay no tax at all. I know subtlety is lost on most of the electorate, but that doesn't excuse failure to understand very basic facts.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  40. stevegee


    When half the country has no skin in the game, the other half will be reduced to skin and bones financially speaking. Welcome to Obama's United States of Fair Share.

    Steve in Philadelphia

    February 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  41. Rick McDaniel


    I would propose the thought, that if we continue on the current path of fiscal irresponsibility, the waste of trillions of dollars in social programs, and the effort to establish a Democratic Party dictatorship in America, we will absolutely have a revolution in this country.

    America will no longer exist, as we know it.

    Precisely why we cannot afford to take any chance with the leadership of this country, and we have to vote Obama out of office. Failure to do that, will ensure revolution and disaster in America.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  42. Mike S., New Orleans

    It leaves most of us waiting for something to "trickle down" to us from those "job creators" who don't pay their fair share of taxes. And until the lower and middle class demand tax equity, we're heading toward a depression.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  43. Conor in Chicago

    With the way you have phrased this questions, it seems obvious that you are trying to feign outrage over this notion that “half of the country essentially pays for the other half”. I challenge you to see this issue in a different light. The idea of having the lower classes pay less in taxes, and some cases no taxes, is so they have more disposable income and can continue to sustain our Capitalist/Consumerist society. If the lower class has no money, they don’t consume, the rich go out of business, everyone suffers. Now, one of the major problems with the lower classes not reaping the “economic gains” of the last 30 years is you have a country in which nearly half of the population doesn’t pay federal taxes (though they pay every other tax) because they don’t earn enough income to do so. Should we raise taxes on them and give them less disposable income? Is that really the answer? Of course not. The answer is finding a way for wages to rise alongside the managerial class. The answer is to bring jobs back to the US and force the managerial class to pay $17/hr for decent jobs instead of Chinese slave labor for $.17 an hour. The answer is not to turn this into a bash the poor fest and to allow the wealthy and ignorant of this nation to scream and complain about something as complex as this issue that can be easily propagandized.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  44. Kim , Dodge City, Ks

    Well, some people that pay no income tax are laughing all the way to the Caymans to get their money. It would be nice if we were headed toward some form of serious tax reform. But unless we outlaw lobbyists, I doubt if we are headed for a happy ending.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  45. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    well here we go again. half of Americans pay NO Federal Income Tax because they DON'T make any REAL money working at their "Welcome to WalMart" or "Do You Want Fries With That Order?" minimum wage jobs. they STILL pay FICA and Sales tax and THAT takes a higher precentage of their income than it does from high income workers and "coupon clippers" like Mitt Romney.

    this is about the sixteenth time I have seen a Cafferty "question" like this in the last year. have you taken a lesson from Frank Luntz on "push polling?

    February 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  46. Richard Oak Harbor, Wa

    It can only be alledged that 50% of Americans pay no income tax.

    Which 50% the top 50 or bottom 50? It is wasteful and redundant for those receiving federal benefit funds to give back to the government a portion of those benefit and don't forget the cost to taxpayers for processing the recycled federal benefit funds. How do we know if those receiving tax free federal benefits aren't already having their taxes deducted from the pay schedule which determines the amount they receive?

    Therefore it can only be alledged that 50% of Americans pay no income tax.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  47. LA Belle

    Big businesses did not become successful without the average working employee. You can bet the CEO's did not do all the low wage work to reap hugh profits that are now sitting in foreign Island banks. And with their increased greed, U.S. businesses are also now outsourced to foreign soil, causing massive unemployment in this country. With low wages for employees and millions unemployed, it's surprising it's only half paying no income tax. America is going where Congress has been taking it for decades; on a slow path to hell.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  48. Ed from Texas

    It shows the diversity of our country, Jack. Trust fund babies pay no income tax because they invested their inheritance in tax free municipal bonds. Other Americans pay no income tax, because they don't make enough money.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  49. Janne from NC

    Those of us that pay taxes are going to become more and more resentful of those that do not. Especially when we are constantly ridiculed by the press and administration that we are not doing enough. How much is enough??!! The president is going to get that class warfare that he wants but it may come as a surprise when it comes from the top.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  50. wayne, va beach, va

    America isn't headed anywhere, its already there. Obama right now is deciding when to flush.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  51. Jeff In Minnesota

    As one of those who pays and seems to pay a lot, I'm very frustrated that the majority of people and corporations pay nothing. What makes it even more frustrating is that a number of those people and corporations not paying are those that make a lot more than I do and have a lot more wealth than I do. I work hard for my money, it was not given to me. I realize that the government needs money to run, but why is that burden on such a small few with everyone else getting a free ride? That is what has to change and that is what is driving people nuts. The wealthy keep getting wealthier at the expense of everyone else.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  52. diridi

    We are already headed, No wonder Obama is crying on raise of Taxes who make more than 250k or more.....o.k, Entire Tax-Code needs to be reformed. Obama2012.
    PS: We also need to Nationalize Oil-Companies to lower Price of Oil....true, true, true...

    February 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  53. Carla from Alabama

    Where is America headed if the 1% wealthiest pay virtually NO income tax, Jack? I'm tired of seeing leading questions like this. It is not up to the battered and abused middle class to pay enough taxes to save this country - it's up to those who have made their [fill in the blank with profanity of your choice] fortunes on the BACKS of the middle class. At the age of 66, I'm tired of working myself to death, paying my taxes to fund wars I don't agree with, and watching CEOs rake in millions in bonuses, while I don't have a penny for retirement. SOCIALISM sounds really good to this girl.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  54. Michaell "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: Unfortunately, I don't belong to the half of Americans who don't pay taxes--but America is headed towards the "path to hell,"-–and sometimes the path to hell is often not paved with good intentions!

    February 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  55. Susan-NJ

    The rich don't pay income taxes so why should anyone else?

    February 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  56. C Longman ( Bconlong) Turks & Caicos

    Jack just wake up every one and give them the distasteful news about the end of the road if we don't and then give them the better news if we do

    February 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  57. Doug Ericson

    How about we eliminate the federal income tax, and get rid of the crooks that are wasting all the tax payers money. Or we could elect the Neo Socialist Mitt Romney. Yesterday Mitt Romney said he would like to eliminate the Mortgage Interest Tax deduction. ( Mitt made this statement on video tape yesterday, and it was shown on CNN yesterday afternoon.). A week ago Mitt was for the Middle class, and now he wants to wipe them out. Go figure. Doug. Pepperell, MA.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  58. Lamar in Charlotte

    The same place it has been headed... to the top! Those people who don't pay income taxes probably can't afford to do so. However the Mitt Romney's of the world should be more than willing to pay more in taxes to help out the country and fellow Americans. If you're running for President or any office for that matter you should be the most patriot person therefore you should be more selfless in regards to paying taxes (especially if you bank in the Caymans and got SuperPac cashflow).

    February 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  59. Karl in Flint, MI

    Well, we are either headed to creating jobs that pay people enough to pay taxes along with the 1% starting to pay their fair share or we are headed to a third world existence. Making grandma pay taxes on her Social Security or the unemployed paying taxes on unemployment isn't the answer. When John Boehner took over the House last year, he was going to create all kinds of jobs. Where are they? Until the House, who controls the purse strings and now under GOP control, puts out the money for infrastructure jobs to get things moving, we aren't going anywhere.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  60. Larry in Houston

    Where is America headed if nearly half of us pay no federal income tax?
    Answer : IF the Republicans have their way – It would be much worse. The 1% isn't going to pay Anything, ( if they can help it) You cannot get blood out of a turnip, Jack. The national debt will go up, no matter who's in the white house, come next January.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  61. Gary H. Boyd

    America's moving into the world of Obama socialism Jack. He's the modern day Robin Hood - take from the rich - give to the poor.
    When half the country pays no taxes can national bankruptcy be far behind? I'm putting my money into gold and moving to an off-shore island.,

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    February 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  62. TomInRochNY

    Probably China. They have the jobs we were promised.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  63. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    It should be obvious to most people that we're headed to become a total socialistic society, then a second world country leading down the yellow brick road to be the most violent and dangerous 3rd world country with a lot of nukes. Our only saving grace would be to start now to drill for all the oil and provide energy to China and India.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  64. Karen Adkins

    If only some pay taxes shows we're heading to hell in a handbasket. Thank you very much

    February 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  65. C Oliver

    No industry, No jobs, No earnings, the top 2% of the rich have to pay more taxes.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  66. BILL, WI

    Lets do the math. If the bottom 50% do not pay taxes, what does the top 10% contribute to the total tax revenue of the United States? Lets see if the Occupiers slogan of one-percenters has any validity.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  67. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I think we're headed in direction of Greece because of our greed. When corporations like GE pay no taxes and then get a billion dollars tax incentive along with people like Romney paying less tax than the average American. Because of all the tax loopholes we have for the rich. Our taxes are set up to help the rich and stick it to the working man. The only reason for this is the money they donate to campaigns and the lobbyists they have roaming the halls of Congress getting bills passed in their favor.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  68. Mr D

    It means that almost half of us have no business complaining about how the federal government is run. Let's say: you get what you pay for.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  69. Thinkforyourself, OK

    This is the Progressive Agenda. Obama and others like him are seeking to create a dependent class that will continually vote in favor of the party that gives them the most bennies.
    Cloward-Piven, per Alinsky Strategy used to bring down a capitalist system.

    To answer your question Jack, America is headed for the crapper.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  70. Larry Feierstein-Denver

    Jack, did you just discover this? This is a decades old problem. Its simply the tax system and how people either find ways to cheat, yes cheat, or just dont file and it takes years to catch up. When will we all learn the entire system needs an overhaul, NOW.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  71. Mark in Houston

    Where are we headed? Can you say...Chinese Province.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  72. Josh from NYC

    I think this issue is a little bit of a canard. The Tea Party is fundamentally anti-tax (the "TEA" in tea party stands for "taxed enough already.") So why is it a problem that half of all Americans aren't subject to federal tax at all? Isn't that a good thing? Or do we only want lower taxes for the super-rich...

    February 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  73. Mitoosense

    Until there is parity in income tax people wii avoid paying. We need a flat tax with Zero exemption and deductions, Further payroll is paid by check. The Bank should become responsible for deduction for tax, healthcare, retirement and unemployment insurance. Ending payroll deduction removes the conspiracy between government and employers and returns liberty to the worker..

    February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  74. Paul From Austin Texas

    Down the tubes if you ask me. I have to pay just short of 23k this year. So I am one of the ones that have to pay for all it seems like but that has become the American way in resent years has it not? Being American is paying taxes so the big wigs who pay none or little should hit the road and not run for President.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  75. janelle

    We're headed toward Greece, Jack. But what surprises me is that so many people are surprised by this. Conservatives have been warning about this for several years, this is not something that is just coming about. We need more tax payers. So rather than simply calling for the so called rich to pay their so called fair share, we need to get government out of the way and let the private sector thrive, creating opportunity for everyone. That will increase the number of tax payers, increase tax revenues and decrease government spending by getting people off unemployment, food stamps, etc. Not rocket science, just basic math.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  76. Rebecca from Georgia

    It would be helpful to give amnesty to the illegal immigrants and make them citizens. Its cheaper and it would require their employers to provide them with health insurance and stuff that a normal citizen would receive. It would also have them pay taxes. I believe that is the best and cheapest option available because we can stop spending tons of dollars trying to get rid of them and let them have what they want and everything that goes with it.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  77. Susan UP of MI

    Since "Corporations are people" we need to have them start paying their fair share instead of hiding behind the bought and paid for loopholes.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  78. Pete in Florida

    What a dumb question. Lots of us are too POOR to pay taxes...or buy food, pay rent, etc. Others are tax cheats. And SOME are wealthy folks that are able to beat the system. But all that's beside the point. Lots of people not paying taxes is not the problem – it's just one of many symptoms of our real problems, which are virtually too many to list here. But at the head of the list is the incompetence, dishonesty and malfeasance of our leaders...and the gullible, ignorant misinformed voters that keep putting them in office. WAKE UP, VOTERS!!!

    February 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  79. Nate NC

    America acts like spoiled little kids that can't deal with their grown up problem. We have become divided as everyone seeks their own way around paying taxes not realizing they are adding to a much bigger underlying problem.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  80. Dave, Orlando, FL

    I guess that means that nearly half of us are very wealthy; they are the only ones who don’t have to pay taxes. The poor and middle class have to pick up the slack for the well off. Those on SS and the unemployed have to pay taxes on their benefits and unless you are a squatter living in a tent in the woods you are paying real estate taxes one way or another. Are you sure about those numbers?

    February 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  81. Sylvia in San Diego

    It is sickening that over half the workers pay no federal tax. We need to overhaul our tax system so that EVERYONE pays at least 10% of their earnings. I am paying 28% of my income to the IRS and 12% to California state and I do not get any more benefits than those who pay nothing! In fact, I cannot qualify for a home mortgage reduction and my kids do not qualify for finantial aid in college. I would propose that if you pay no taxes, you loose your right to vote!!!

    February 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  82. Conor in Chicago

    And what are the 2 major economic transformations to take shape since 1984? Reaganomics and Globalization. So the rich had their taxes slashed and then took that savings and purchased politicians who agreed to send jobs overseas so they could all make more money. Don’t pretend like half of this nation is free-loading. Half of this nation is the casualty of the “unfettered free market”. You guys want to be plutocrats? Pay the requisite taxes then.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  83. Paul - North Carolina

    Jack, I can't believe you are quoting the Heritage Foundation; an organization hopelessly adrift in the fog of conservatism. They whine that people who don't have to pay income taxes will vote for tax increases. Most Americans would be more than happy to pay taxes if they were earning enough to warrant it. The ideology fomented by the Heritage Foundation and the rest of the right wing pretty much put an end to that. Now that they've devastated the middle class and impoverished millions they're worried about a backlash that might actually make the upper 2% pay what they should have been paying all along. Pardon me if I don't shed a tear for them.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  84. Ray in Knoxville

    C'mon, Jack, have you been drinking from the Fox News water fountain? Congress hasn't spent the last 30 years lowering the bottom tax bracket to allow fewer people to pay taxes. That 49.5% number is the result of 3 decades of Republican economic practices at work, you know, "Reaganomics," which has given us a wealthier upper class and eroded the middle and working classes so much that half of the country can't help support the economy. Where are we headed? Towards banana republic status.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  85. Al in Delaware

    It means that half the people live below the poverty line. I guess you want to tax the poor rather than raise taxes on the rich. You are aware that the Heritage Foundation was founded by the Koch Billionaires. Small wonder they're pushing the 1% agenda.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  86. s in fl

    Apparently the same ginned-up scarecrow hell described by the spinmiesters who ginned up your ridiculous question. The "50% don't pay taxes" is one of the most ridiculous twisted talking points on the radar and I'm surprised that you are propagating it, Jack. Thought you smarter.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  87. John from Santa Maria, CA

    I worked all of my life and paid taxes, now I am retired and this year I didnt pay any Federal Income Taxes but all the income I get I spend and it goes into the economy. The 15 trillion we owe didnt come from people like me, it was caused by the big money people who through greed caused the econonic crisis. Not only should I not pay any taxes the big money people should be overtaxed in order to pay the 15 trillion dept they caused. Time to cut the fat hog.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  88. deborah ballweg Seibert, co

    Does the word "Greece" mean anything to you? We have way too many people with their hand out and those who work cannot support them. Nor should they have to. The welfare state is collapsing and soon "no work, no food" will return as it was practiced at Jamestown.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  89. RickFromDetroit

    We are headed for third world status. The reason that half of the country does not pay taxes is because the government has issued "tax cut" after "tax cut" trying to offset "substandard wages" in a futile attempt to increase "consumer spending" while the corporate profits generated by the "private sector" are constantly being funneled into "shareholders pockets" when the corporate profits should be returned to the economy in the form of higher employee wages & benefits.

    To make matters worse, Corporate America continues to outsource to foreign countries so they can keep shareholder profits up and inflation down. Greed is destroying the country while the "Corporate Liars" try to blame their economic mess on government spending and entitlements programs.

    Do them "hotshot analysts" really think we believe them??

    February 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  90. pat in michigan

    I think it would be better to ask where would America be headed if we all paid a fair share.Where do you think we are headed if the govt. cuts of soc. security, medicaid and the other prepaid "entitlements".I'll tell you where Jack. The rest of us are gonna stop paying our taxes.What are ya gonna do take our homes. Sorry too late. Wall street already did that.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  91. Michael, from Smiths, Alabama

    I can't say where we could be heading right now, but I know where we WILL be heading if the GOP gets control of the White House.....into what we could call, 'the Hell of the Poorhouse', where you have so much debt that the next 20 generations will STILL be paying for our mistakes, and the mistakes of our parents and grandparents.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  92. Nancy, Cunningham, TN

    The rich say they are paying their fair share, the middle class has become the lower class with not enough money to make ends meet. The once lower class is so far down the chain that they have to look up to see down. The United States is headed for the orphanage for the poor. Maybe China will adopt us.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  93. ken, atlantic city, nj

    The country is headed for bankrupcy. The politicians are scared to death to cut anything other than taxes. It is over for the u.s.a. Stupid voters and greedy politicians equal bankrupcy.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  94. andy Lynn, MA

    Where is America headed? Why that's easy; the tax paying half are bribing (sorry) I mean contributing to Congress so they too can have customized tax breaks and loop holes. When they are successful no one will pay taxes, all American industry will be outsourced, and America will collapse like a house of cards.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  95. Sean Palm Desert, CA

    The question is skewed since "the other half" earns more than 97% of all discretionary income, and this great nation won't make its citizens homeless for the sake of collecting taxes from those who can't afford to pay... provided Republicans don't get their way.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  96. Larry

    To republican utopia

    February 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  97. David in MS

    The half that isn't paying is headed for happy land me I am headed to the poor house but not until the last second to mail in my check.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  98. Fred Colby; Menominee, MI

    Jack, here's an answer I've pushed for a number of years. We all pay federal taxes, most of us indirectly, all through purchases we make. Remember, businesses pay no taxes. They charge that expense to their buyers. So the revenue problem came from the 30 years of cumulative tax cuts. The cuts given to businesses and corporations should have been given to the buyers through corresponding end price reductions. Much less of an impact on Economy.
    Fred, Menominee, MI.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  99. Dave from Toronto

    Texas and its neighbours will cecede and form an independent tax free zone. It's constitution, the Bush Doctrine, with government replaced by guns. It's national anthem, The Good, Bad and the Ugly

    February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  100. Sean, Roseville, California


    February 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  101. Cee.Louisiana

    When you get a $1000, tax credit per child, it doesnt take long and you get more back that you payed in.....the idea that people just dont pay taxes is just a bit misleading.......and it is repeated constantly by the right......

    February 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  102. Brian Samuels (Chicago)

    Taxes should follow the money Jack.... not the people. That's what makes America different....special. If we allow the top earners to keep everything they make, and they make 99% of the income, guess what? .....We become Uganda. If millionaires and billionaires love the country that put policies together to make them (& their children) millionaires and billionaires, they should be eager to pay the taxes on their government sponsored fortune.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  103. Dustin in Oxford, Ms.

    The repeal of the XVI Amendment, hopefully.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  104. Pete/Ark

    Jack it may not be about individuals escaping taxation(since they do get us with myriad taxes added to what we buy),it may be about corportions and trusts that don't pay taxes dragging us in the wrong direction. I wish Exxon and GE paid the same percentage I do.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  105. somewhere over the rainbow..

    One word: GREECE!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  106. Melinda Mitravcih

    I don't know, Jack, why don't we ask GE.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  107. Bob

    I hope change.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  108. steve c. in miami

    our country is finished

    February 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  109. Kathy, Glendale, AZ

    The way of the Roman Empire.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  110. Tyler

    I don't really like the way this is heading. As a freshmen in college I don't like the thought of picking up the slack where the rest of America fell short. When I get out of college no one really knows what the U.S. is going to look like economically. It's time for all of America (rich and the poor) to start paying their fair share of taxes and stop making the middle class absorb the brunt of the force.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  111. Neil in Baltimore

    Well considering everyone needs to pay their "fair share", according to many, why don't most of the people who believe so do it themselves?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  112. Susan from Idaho

    We aren't heading anywhere, we are there. Case in point. I just met a woman at the yogurt shop that was on disability and attending college. I asked what she was working toward and she said she didn't know. She looked to be 150 lbs over weight. Did I mention we were at the yogurt shop?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  113. Wes

    Once ALL unemployment and government assistants runs out, We are headed toward a violent Occupy Revolution. This time it will be in HD.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  114. Chandler in Rockaway, NJ

    You disappoint me, Jack, by repeating right-wing sophistry. Just because someone pays no Federal Income Tax does not mean they pay no taxes. Low-income people are hit far harder by payroll taxes than high-income people, and that doesn't include sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, property taxes, license fees and the like. Just because someone is too poor to pay Federal Taxes does not make them freeloaders!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  115. Nell, South Carolina

    But, they pay other taxes - Social Security and Medicare taxes (if they have income), personal property taxes (if they have a car, house, trailer, boat, etc.), gas tax, sales tax. But, because the wealthy have so much and the poor so little, the wealthy pay more income tax. People who have income should stop beating up on those unfortunate people who don't.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  116. Claudia

    I lost my job when Bush was in office. I don't pay taxes because I'm below the poverty line and have used up my unemployment benefits while I went back to school. My kids are on Medicaid and we use food stamps. Jack, if someone would give me a job, I'd be glad to pay taxes, have insurance for my kids and stop using food stamps. I'm not going anywhere and America isn't either. During Obama's second term, this country will pull out of the slump and be just fine.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  117. Bob, in Florida

    We ARE headed for a two class society....a small wealthy/ultra-weathy class and the POOR class. What the media WILL NOT SAY is that 90% of those who do NOT pay federal taxes ARE TOO POOR (too little money) to OWE any federal taxes. THAT MEANS JACK, that 44.1% of the 49% are POOOOR!!!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  118. calaurore9

    To that big double-wide in our golden years.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  119. Joe

    We're headed in the same direction we have been heading for decades; a country with leaders who spend more money than they take in because they are weak, spineless and afraid to do the right thing for the country and our future. Last I checked, 1+1 does not equal 4. A remedial math course for most every politician including the current president is urgently needed, followed by a balanced budget amendment and term limits for Congress. Our time is limited ...

    February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  120. Erica Lee

    Jack–We're headed down the wrong track, as seven out of ten Americans have said in recent polls. At some point, let's hope real democracy takes hold and we vote the incumbents out.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  121. Noah Tucson, AZ

    The question is different but the blog is the same as the "who can save the republican party"...

    Anyway, in response to your question, I'm pulling for the Mayan prophecy. Like a desperate gambler rolling the dice, "Come on 12/21/12!".

    February 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  122. Jerry

    I believe that everyone in our society ought to pay SOME income tax. Even if it's ten bucks. If you have income, you have an obligation to pay something toward the system that benefits you. Thank you for having the guts to bring the topic up; it's something many avoid. Only if we're all in this together will we succeed. If the "99%" insist on being supported by the 1%, the 1% will eventually take their ball and go home. That's a lose-lose. Please keep talking about this, it's important.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  123. Sam

    I think it's a reflection of the growing income gap between the rich and the poor.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  124. Brent in Wisconsin

    Well, since there is less money to pay for government programs, there will be more cuts; more cuts mean more people out of work, and that means even less revenue. A viscious downward spiral to the bottom. And the only way we can stop this is for we, the people, to re-invest in our economy. I learned that from an economics class.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  125. Trevor

    Jack, this means that if our current economic situation does not change the American people may fall prey to any popular demagogue that comes along promising more benefits. Why should someone oppose voting themselves benefits if they don't have to foot the bill? We must re-establish a culture of responsibility and self reliance in this country or disaster will surely follow. If we do not change we will certainly go the way of the Roman Republic, which collapsed when a guy named Caesar came along offering bread and circuses.
    Lodi, CA

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  126. Chris in NJ

    Well Jack, we'll become a welfare paradise just like the country of Greece. We are half way there already – just look at the billions of dollars worth of free services illegals receive that ultimately – WE pay for. Governments answer is to just throw it on the backs of the middle class as usual and forget about it, but now, with the complete decimation of the middle class being the new reality, government has no choice but to address it and revamp the entire tax, immigration and entitlement system, or face a future just as bad as the depression or maybe worse..

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  127. Tim

    Ever since Rome was a world power people have had to pay taxes. If we keep going at this rate, we will cross the bridge to nowhere and will be remembered as the power that was.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  128. Todd (Dayton, Ohio)

    The better question, Jack, is "Why is it that so many Americans can not afford to pay income taxes?" In a country where 10% of the population controls over 90% of the wealth and elections are sold to the highest bidder (thank you Citizen's United), the rest of us need more help than ever.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  129. Ed in Florida

    First off I dont believe that figure at all . Secondly maybe if the cheap employers would stop cutting wages the people would make enough money to pay taxes. But anytime you want to add up consumption taxes like fuel taxes and utility bill taxes and taxes on food the 99 percent is going to win in the tax paying department. The right wing media is simply trying to paint some sort of story that americans dont work and dont pay taxes and that one percent of the population is supporting us. My brother doesent make alot of money and he pays federal taxes every year. But just remember consumers create jobs not business's

    February 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  130. marcy from margate, florida

    There are some people that have deductions and do not make enough money to pay Federal Taxes, however they pay Federal Taxes in other ways. For Ex:
    Federal taxes on their phone bill
    Federal Taxes on gasoline
    Federal Taxes on clothing
    Federal Taxes on electric bill
    Federal Taxes on certain food products
    and the list goes on. Everyone pays Federal Taxes. Don't believe the Republican lies.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  131. Danny Los Angeles ca.

    This is why we're in trouble jack 1% of Americans make 80% of the income .with a shrinking middle class that has problems just paying a house payment .and 50% of Americans either unemployed or underemployed.it a wonder were not in a complete revolt.and of course those out of work will support safety nets or they will starve.shareholders are the only winners in this capitalism.but I do t think that's sustainable soon all consumer bases that support corporate profits will not make enough to support the only game left in town I call on corporate to start hiring to save themselves and the American middle class most people want to work the problem has been corporate dominance then the downsizing of it

    February 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  132. Doug L

    I think the fact that half of Americans do not make enough money to be required to pay income taxes says more about the divide that has widened between the haves and the have nots in our country. If CEOs and upper management would pay themselves less so that everyone who works for a company could earn a decent wage, the US would not only have more taxpayers, but also more people to buy goods and services. This isn't rocket science, just simple economics. We should return to the era where if someone made above a certain reasonably large amount, the difference in what they make above this threshold is taxes at 91%. This way a business owner would be faced with either keeping $9 out of every $100 or distributing the surplus more fairly among his/her employees.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  133. Jim Green, Seguin, TX

    Jack, your question is misleading—everyone who works pays taxes—and anyone would be out of their mind if they didn’t reduce their INCOME TAX by deductions, such as house interest, etc.—your question suggests that half the country is on welfare which is hogwash! You have been listening to FOX too much, Jack–

    February 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  134. Johnny

    We shouldn't look at it as half of Americans don't pay federal taxes, but where are the jobs and wages for these Americans to afford to pay those taxes. Is blaming the struggling family who needs government assistance where you want to take this argument, or companies like GE who doesn't pay any federal taxes who earn billions each year.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  135. Emma in Baltimore

    We're headed for The Jungle, as described by Upton Sinclair.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  136. Steve Bott

    This is a myth that is been around so long it is accepted as true. Between social security and medicare, taxes, are paid on the first dollar earned. 15.2% are the minimum paid by all workers. Also the cap is 106K so those making more then that do not pay this tax on their income.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  137. Tom H - Seattle

    I'd like to see the Exxon's and the General Electric's and the Bank of America's pay income tax. How about 60% with NO wrieoffs? Do that for a few years, and we'll be just fine.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  138. Leon

    The US is heading down the toilet! The cure is simple raise taxes by 35% on all companies that send American jobs overseas and tax all political organizations. If these idiots are willing to fill the airways with their dribble then the least we can do is tax their idiocy.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  139. Henry

    Jack, more than half of American households earn less than $50,000 a year, and 28% of households earn less than $25,000. That's 28% of American families living on less than $12.50 an hour.

    Instead of trying to squeeze all the money possible out of the very poor, living on those extravagant instant noodle diets, why don't we tax the real leeches sucking our tax base dry: the ultra rich who pay less of a percentage than their secretaries, who control an unprecedented portion of the economic pie, and who are rabidly against doing their duty and paying their fair share.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  140. Doug McGee

    They pay taxes all year long – loaning the government monies – and get a full refund when they file. That's not including all the other taxes they pay.
    The questions should be: Where are we headed if we continue to blame the working poor for the nation's problems?

    February 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  141. Dyt

    Third world status. I lived in a third world country for three years when I was in the military. I interacted with their government as part of my job. It's ugly. As the country slips away and more and more people start to recognize what is happening, it becomes a grabfest. Everybody looking out for number one. Cheating, stealing more and more causing us to slide faster and faster. There is a reason it's called a cancer.
    We have to stop this. We have to stop this now.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  142. Dr Schmidt

    The country we live in will be no more. I am sick of all the people that complain that the rich steal all the wealth. I pay 40% of my income in taxes after working 80-100 hours a week 50 weeks a year. I served in the Army to pay for college. I owe 200,000 in student loans and can't write interest off because I am too "rich". People need to realize that 50% pay no taxes and of that 50%, 50% get an earned income credit for not making enough or having more children then they can support. People of the United States need to get off their asses, get a job, any job, and start working. It is time to be the country and people our constitution designed us to be. Thomas Jefferson said "A govenment big enough to give you everything you need is strong enough to take it all away". The time is now to retake our country or sink into a socialistic state owned by China that will be destroyed under the weight of its own debt.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  143. Angela Hess

    The problem with this question is that it in NO way reflects whether or not people have a stake in the government. If I am paying in 7.65 % in FICA (Social Security & Medicare) with my employer matching for a total of 15.3 % from me, then I AM contributing !!! In fact, as Buffett and others have pointed out ad nauseum, I may be contributing MORE on a percentage of income basis than those making 100s of times more than me. The last time I checked, the thing that is bankrupting the government is the rising cost of Social Security & Medicare. To count those items in the deficit and in future problems and yet discount the taxes all of us in the bottom 98% pay in taxes specifically for those costs is ludicrous.
    I understand the Heritage Foundation has a political purpose in pretending that half of us get off tax free, but there is no reason for CNN or any of the commenters to buy into this twisted thinking.
    I would also add that it does depend on WHY people are not paying the taxes. I have not analyzed their numbers, but I would guess that MOST people not paying income taxes are elderly, just entering the workforce, or single mothers. It is true that having people retired for longer & longer periods and raking in free money from the government and voting themselves increases on these benefits WILL bankrupt us. It is also true that the young and the poor are very likely NOT to vote and have been getting benefits cut for 30 + years as a result.
    And in anticipation of people trying to claim the elderly "paid their dues" to receive those benefits, I dare any of you to actually do the math on that. We all know that when Social Security was started people had a life expectancy less than the retirement age. But how many of you realize that the deduction began as 1% of income? Anyone under 40 has been paying the 15.3% their entire working life and thus may belief this was true of their parents and grandparents but it is not. The percentage and caps have steadily increased over time, as has the length of retirement and the benefit levels. It has turned from a safety net for the infirm to 20 + years of nonproductivity paid for by new workers. I agree that such a system is unsustainable, but I daresay this isn't what Jack or Heritage meant.
    Stillwater, PA

    February 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  144. MaryG

    Is it not true that, included in that 50% figure , are all children, disabled and retired people just getting by on Social Security? Is it not true that this figure is based at least in part on census figures? Is it not at best, misleading, and at worst, well, maybe much worse than misleading????

    February 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  145. Chrisie Balch

    Here we go...an opportunity to educate the masses.....You see Immigration/Border Control is not a race issue. IRS Publication 501 specifically states that any resident or NON RESIDENT of America provided that they are either from Canada or Mexico can claim as many dependents as they want. This is an example of this lack of control over policy within our country and how the policies are currently causing more harm than good. My company employs hundreds of Mexicans who claim they have 11 kids...never have a dime taken from their checks and they never file at the end of the year either! Here's my take on it...If you are not an American you should only be able to claim yourself. Problem solved!

    February 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  146. E W Burt

    The real truth is that the bottom half pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes of all kinds compared to the top half. News Flash-There are many more taxes than income.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  147. JLK in Tucson

    Jack – We're going downhill fast. Everyone needs to have skin in the game; PERIOD.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  148. Tim

    It is a travesty that only 14.6% of us paid no income tax in 1984 and today that number approaches 50%. Approximately 60% of the population takes more out of the government than they pay in every year. We certainly need tax code changes, so the numbers are more in line with 1984, this is a national disgrace.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  149. Stephanie - Seattle

    If you don't think it will get worse, just wait until all those who don't pay taxes yet get all the free services the so called 1% pay for vote again for obama. They've got quite a racket going and so does he. Of course he'll get re-elected because he appeals to at least 49.5% of Americans... the ones who don't pay for anything.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  150. Bruce A. Clark

    This is a highly misleading statistic. For the overwhelming majority of working Americans, income tax – both Federal and State combined – do not account for the majority of their tax burden which is of course payroll taxes…which are of course levied by the Federal government.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  151. Jane - WI

    We are headed for chaos when there are more takers than makers.
    No wonder so many people are in favor of raising taxes on the so called "rich".
    If you aren't going to be personally affected, what do you care?
    ALL people need to have skin in the game. the President talks about "fairness". It certainly is not "fair" that almost half of the country pays nothing to support it.
    It's time to eliminate ALL deductions.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  152. Davey

    Although many Americans pay no federal personal income tax, they pay lots of other federal taxes, such as the payroll tax, motor fuel taxes, and many others. In additiion, they pay all sorts of state and local taxes. Most research shows that poorer people pay at least as much ( proportionallly) in total taxes as do wealthier people.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  153. Jackie

    Why are we just talking about the poor that do not pay taxes. What about the rich? What's fair is fair.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |