TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, October 5, 2009

For Whom Do The 47% Who Pay No Income Tax Vote?

Following up on last week's post, 47% Will Pay $0 Income Tax in 2009: this chart breaks down the 2008 presidential election by income:

2008 Election Results by Income

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/10/who-do-those.html

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Comments

How the @%$$@ do you make $100k+ and pay no taxes?
They could make themselves millionaires by running a seminar on that!

Of course then they may have to pay taxes on that million.

Posted by: EvilDave | Oct 5, 2009 1:18:17 PM

I think this is a bit misleading because a number of the people at the bottom may have other factors--race, ethnicity, geographic location--that affected their vote. If you look at the very top as opposed to the middle incomes, Obama appears to go up once again. It is both ends against the middle, so to speak.

Posted by: mike livingston | Oct 5, 2009 1:51:04 PM

EvilDave,

$100k income, $50k charitable contribution, $50k in mortgage interest. Next question.

Posted by: Joe C. | Oct 5, 2009 3:44:08 PM

Not to mention all of the unemployed people out there who were cut as a result of Bush's Great Recession. They make 0, so pay no tax.

Posted by: Jaws | Oct 5, 2009 5:28:45 PM

About $2,000,000 invested in your state's tax-free municipal bonds.
A Ivy League professor's 401(k), for example.

Posted by: 30yearProf | Oct 6, 2009 6:16:55 PM

Uh, folks, I don't think the chart makes the distinction that these are the people paying no tax. I think we're supposed to surmise that the left side of the chart pays the least taxes, but voted overwhelmingly for Obama. So, the $100k earners ARE paying income tax ... the chart is showing all votes by income bracket.

Posted by: EMD | Oct 6, 2009 6:17:55 PM

Yes, it's wonderful how Obama has cut unemployment so much.

Posted by: Doolie | Oct 6, 2009 6:19:11 PM

Ummm... EvilDave, that isn't a chart of people who pay no taxes. It is a chart of what people earn and their voting habits. TaxProf is leaving it to you to understand that it is likely that the 47% is made up of those on the left of the chart...

Posted by: rrsafety | Oct 6, 2009 6:20:04 PM

That doesn't speak to who pays zero tax, does it. It will definitely be correlated with income, but...

Posted by: butman | Oct 6, 2009 6:21:21 PM

Yes - all of the unemployment is Bush's fault , together with WW2 and WW3 for that matter including the intervening rinderpest outbreaks in the Sudan.
Will the cult of O never take responsibility for anything?

Posted by: Jaws blows | Oct 6, 2009 6:22:43 PM

Is the Secretary of the Treasury included in that 47%?

Posted by: malclave | Oct 6, 2009 6:29:57 PM

Interesting that once you get over the $200,000 amount, which could be referred to as the "wealthy", you're back in Obama territory again.

Posted by: Wordygirl | Oct 6, 2009 6:43:01 PM

Hmmmm.

"$100k income, $50k charitable contribution, $50k in mortgage interest. Next question."

Isn't that called "zeroing out" and isn't that banned by the IRS?

Just wondering.

Posted by: memomachine | Oct 6, 2009 6:43:13 PM

jeeze jaws, w. is to blame for EVERYTHING. ipso ergo arguendo, you're a racist and a hypocritical prude (other end, ie clinton).

nice call, malclave.

Posted by: The Portly Lawyer | Oct 6, 2009 6:43:39 PM

"Will the cult of O never take responsibility for anything?"

Uh no they are about to blame an underling for Obama's ironclad pledge to close Gitmo in a year. So no that will never happen.

Posted by: Mr. Pink | Oct 6, 2009 6:44:09 PM

The whole point is to paraphrase the statement by James Madison (I think) "Once a majority of the people can vote themsleves largesse from others the Republic is lost."

An even more important statistic is this; did everyone on this blog know that only about the top 20% of taxpayers actually pay more in tax than they receive in benefits? The Democrats are creating a nation of free loaders trying to insure their perpetual re-election. That is what healthcare and defense cuts (AKA the not a superpower anymore movenment by the left) are all about. The Democrats want to have every election based on domestic goodies and not on defense/foreign policy, which they tend to lose.

Posted by: bobbymike | Oct 6, 2009 6:54:24 PM

It could be that the prof is showing that people who don't pay taxes will overwhelmingly vote for someone who promises them all kinds of goodies that they won't have to pay for. Kind of like this last election, I won't raise taxes on the middle class, unless you smoke, drink soft drinks or buy stuff. Wait until Nurse Nancy tries to get a federal sales tax established, then those who "don't pay taxes" will have a stake in the government not spending so much money because that sales tax will be coming out of their pocket too. mpw

Posted by: mpw280 | Oct 6, 2009 6:57:43 PM

As usual, the people making the least vote overwhelmingly for the party that strives to always make sure they continue to make the least, and sit quietly on the welfare plantation, harvesting D votes year after year. The correlation of stupidity to poverty is quite high.

Also as usual, a significant portion of the richest of the rich vote with their social hive mind-think (everyone I know is a Democrat) and their ego mania (all the cool kids are Democrats). I would love to see that "Over $200,000" category broken into much more granular slices. I bet the blue rises steadily as income goes up, and by the end of the chart the red line has nearly vanished.

Funny how America has now become a country where both the richest and the poorest are emotionally invested in crushing the middle.

Posted by: peterike | Oct 6, 2009 7:02:18 PM

EvilDave...

47% don't pay income tax... assuming for the sake of simplicity that those are all from the lower end of the income spectrum and reading the percentages in each bracket, 47% will encompass everyone below 50K and almost half of the 50K-75K bracket.

Jaws...

The recession that started under Bush apparently wasn't bad enough on paper, so the current team continues to cook the books to make it look even worse at the time of the inaugural... revising several years of GDP numbers a few months ago and recently revising March 2008 to March 2009 employment figures upwards substantially. Also, the Sept. unemployment looks fishy... workforce is expected to increase by about 150K per month, it was reduced by 570K. Without that reduction, U3 would have been over 10%... a headline they want to put off as long as possible.

Posted by: Mike A | Oct 6, 2009 7:06:45 PM

Posted by: EvilDave | Oct 5, 2009 4:18:17 PM

"How the @%$$@ do you make $100k+ and pay no taxes?"

Loose more than you made. Imagine the old how to end up with a million by owning an airline joke. First, start with a 10 million. :)

Posted by: Thomass | Oct 6, 2009 7:10:41 PM

If a VAT were instituted - as a replacement for the income tax and not merely as an additional money grab - then the perverse incentives would go away, would they not?

And yeah, the part about "not merely as an additional money grab" probably makes it a moot point, ain't gonna happen that way, but just sayin'....

Posted by: Canadian | Oct 6, 2009 7:11:09 PM

Then I guess 47% are getting it.

Only 53% to go.

Posted by: jb | Oct 6, 2009 7:11:16 PM

Two Thoughts:

1. Since I'm always suspicious of the liberals stats, it's only fair to question the source of th 47% stat - are these all individuals? how many are kids in families that pay high taxes on parent's income etc? Anyone know who is really included in this stat?

2. Think about what this stat says relative to those polls saying 52% (or some similar number) are in favor of Obama's big spending policies - right off we can assume some huge portion of these folks aren't expecting to pay for these policies. So yeah, how surprising is it that a lot of people offered some program favor it if they don't pay for it? I think it would be more useful to have polls broken down into categories of taxpayer and nontaxpayers that favor a proposed program.

Posted by: taxpayer | Oct 6, 2009 7:34:04 PM

Wow, I am amazed about how many people on this site know so very little about tax or tax policy. The chart shows the 47% of those who pay no tax. Yes, there are people who have incomes of over 1 million and pay no tax. 6,000 of them in 2009 according to the prior article reference at this beginning of this article.

What the nations tax policy should be is a very complex question which will not be resolved by ad hominem attacks or unsupported statements of "facts". Obviously this is not directed at many of the posters.

Posted by: A. Saunders | Oct 6, 2009 8:08:23 PM

"I bet the blue rises steadily as income goes up, and by the end of the chart the red line has nearly vanished. "

No. In 2004, of the Forbes 400 richest (billionaires), 72% voted for Bush, and only 28% voted for Kerry. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2004/1011/068a.html

America didn't get to where it is by the rich being stupid.

The reason 'people you know' are Democrat, is because Republicans aren't vocal. Everyone who you know who has not talked about politics is Republican.

Posted by: GK | Oct 6, 2009 8:26:43 PM

Now tell us who Bill Gates, Larry Page and Warren Buffett are voting for.

Posted by: tj | Oct 6, 2009 8:43:58 PM

Income taxes are a poor measure of taxation for many Americans. The wage-earning poor pay a substantial amount of their income into Social Security and Medicare taxes, which are flat for the poor and nil for the rich, AND in most states they pay a substantial part of their income as sales taxes. When you are poor, you have to spend your money as you get it, and you pay sales tax on much of that expenditure. When you are rich you can control your tax burden to a much greater extent.

Posted by: Dave Murchison | Oct 6, 2009 9:39:18 PM

the tax prof needs to learn how to make a presentation... this chart is completely unclear in regards to the point he is trying to make..and we are to assume blue=dem ?

Posted by: el polacko | Oct 6, 2009 9:43:50 PM

Big O's coalition is made up of deadbeats and trust-fund babies, with a few high tech/low thought types mixed in (as in "Brin") - shocking not.

Posted by: tortillapete | Oct 6, 2009 9:44:13 PM

EvilDave: "If you look at the very top as opposed to the middle incomes, Obama appears to go up once again. "

There's a 3-4% measurement uncertainty. Values for $30-50k and above are all consistent with nearly equal Democrats and Republican voting tax payer populations.

I think the interpretation of data below $30-50k is pretty straightforward...a few outliers such as somebody with a $50k tax write-off isn't going to affect the distribution that much.

Posted by: Carrick | Oct 7, 2009 2:23:02 AM

Much of the discussion above is unfair to Taxprof. He is pretty darn clear in his entry. He states the chart above is a "follow-up" to an earlier link about the mysterious 47 per cent. So read them both. The earlier post SAYS where that number comes from. And now he says ....plainly.... that this voting data is about income (and he says nothing else).

Posted by: Glenlyon | Oct 7, 2009 5:10:56 AM

How can anyone have problems figuring out this chart? Blue are the votes for Obama and red are the votes for McCain. What it clearly suggests is that out of the bottom 37% of income earners who voted in this last election roughly 60% of them voted for Obama. Clearly the distribution is not consistent with this as incomes increase. We can infer, with 47% of the population expected to not pay income taxes in 2009, that the majority of these would come from at least the bottom 37% of incomes (in fact, most of these are getting net tax benefits!!). We can then infer, considering the way that other higher incomes are distributed, that people who rely on government entitlement programs are more likely to vote consistent with their payout policies. Not that we expected otherwise, it has worked in Chicago for 80 years....

Posted by: optimusprimed | Oct 7, 2009 10:06:23 AM

Bush's Great Recession. Right. My many friends in the real estate mortgage business call this the Dodd-Frank-Raines Resession.

Posted by: Dotar Sojat | Oct 7, 2009 10:58:45 AM

"and we are to assume blue=dem ?"

According to the chart's key, blue represents Obama voters.

Posted by: malclave | Oct 7, 2009 1:24:04 PM

Under GWB this country had the fastest growing economy in history and in the world, a 4.7% unemployment rate and the stock market was nearing 15,000 and then the democrazies stated (2006) elect us and we'll change the direction of this country. A complete crash of everything is some change. How you fools like it? Heard a man today state that he cheered everytime someone who voted for O'Dumbo and the other dumb democrazies loses everything they ever had. Funny thing is the democrats are losing the most since they had the least. 75% of democrat voters have rode welfare their entire life. I live among them and so do you. Best medical care in the world is provided to welfare riders (medicaid) and paid by the conservatives who own the businesses and pay the taxes. Congress critters complained congress republicans were a culture of corruption to they changed it to Organized crime that makes the Mafia look like pikers. I don't know one democrat in congress that isn't an out and out criminal. The day is coming that they will pay for their crimes. Guess we'll have to build more prisons or use the 'death provisions' of the democrats so called medical care bill. I opt for the death provision, I'll even start the IV and insert the poison filled needle.

Posted by: Scrapiron | Oct 7, 2009 7:23:56 PM