In the weeks after a video was leaked of Mitt Romney deriding roughly 47 percent of the country for paying no federal income taxes, some have cheered on the Republican presidential nominee. Others have criticized him, noting that nearly all Americans pay taxes in some form, as well as that many in the 47 percent are elderly, in the military, in school or very poor.
It ends up that many Americans in the 47 percent don't know that they don't pay any federal income taxes. A new poll has found that only 22 percent of Americans say that they don't pay federal income taxes, when 46 percent of households did not last year. The confusion stems partly from the misperception that payroll taxes are the same as federal income taxes, according to the poll, which was released on Wednesday by YouGov and The Economist.
The federal income tax only is one type of tax though, and most Americans pay a substantial share of their income in taxes. When factoring in all federal, state, and local taxes, the poorest fifth of Americans paid an effective tax rate of 17 percent last year, while the top one percent paid an effective tax rate of 29 percent, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.