My name has the perfect number of characters.
Niall Ferguson: “Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50-50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.”
Journalist: It is true that 46 percent of households did not pay federal income tax in 2011. It is not true that they pay no taxes. Federal income taxes account barely account for half of federal taxes, and much less of total taxes, if you count the state and local level. Many of those other taxes can be regressive. If you take all taxes into account, our system is barely progressive at all.
But why do almost half of all households pay no federal income tax? Because they don’t have much money to tax. Here’s the breakdown from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Half of these households are simply too poor — they make under $20,000 — to have any liability. Another quarter are retirees on tax-exempt Social Security benefits. The remaining households have no liability because of tax expenditures like the earned-income tax credit or the child credit.
In other words, the poor, the old, and children. Not exactly the “50-50 nation” of makers and takers — or “lucky duckies” — that Ferguson imagines.
— The Atlantic