By the Numbers: What the 47 Percent Who Pay No Income Tax Look Like

Yahoo Contributor Network

In response to Occupy Wall Street's protest slogan of "We are the 99 percent," conservatives have started an online counterprotest called "We are the 53 percent" -- a reference to the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income tax, on top of the payroll, local, sales and other taxes that other Americans pay.

The Tumblr blog offers helpful suggestions to the other 47 percent, including "quit whining," "get off your duff" and "suck it up you whiners." But who are these mysterious people who don't pay income tax -- besides roughly half of the United States' taxpaying population? More importantly, how do they manage to do it?

31: Percent of nonpaying American households making $10,000 or less per year in 2010 (PDF link to study). An American household of any size making this amount of money, including just one person, is automatically under the poverty threshold.

61: Percent of nonpaying American households making $20,000 or less per year.

87: Percent of nonpaying American households making $40,000 or less per year.

$22,050: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2009 definition of the poverty threshold, for a family with two children living in the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia.

1964: The last year the minimum standard of living defined as below the poverty level was updated, for the purpose of government definitions. A number of things that are required by job-seekers and at-home workers, and that are considered vital parts of American life now, were not included because they did not exist -- things such as computers, cellphones, and Internet access.

$29,600: One proposal for what the poverty line for a family of four should be reset to, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The proposal corrects for a number of statistical quirks in the original, including the assumption that all senior citizens would eat less.

$11,500: The standard income tax deduction for a married couple with two children. The deduction is $9,500 for a couple and $1,000 for each child, as of the tax law change in 2003.

$5,036: The Earned Income Tax Credit granted to a family with two children, according to the 2010 IRS 1040 form. The EITC is a tax break granted to people who work for a living, which grants substantially more to families with children.

16.3: Percent of their incomes that the bottom 20 percent of American earners paid in all forms of taxes combined, on average, in 2010. Some taxes, like state, local, sales, and payroll taxes, take a larger percentage of poor people's income than they do the top 1 percent's.

26.9: Percent of America's net worth owned by the entire bottom 90 percent of American earners, including home equity.

4: Job seekers for every job opening in the United States.

View Comments (786)