TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Where the 47% Live


Political News, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where the 47% Live:


Sure seem to be many more living in the Red states.

Posted by: Bob | Sep 27, 2012 2:08:35 AM

"Sure seem to be many more living in the Red states."

Which makes sense since they are the only states that can support them.

Posted by: Dan Irving | Sep 27, 2012 6:53:02 AM

Thirty-seven percent of California is a lot more people than most red states combined.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 27, 2012 8:21:45 AM

Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that overall in the U.S. the number that is being bandied about is 47% of filers have zero or negative income tax liability, but on this map there is not one single state that has a percentage higher than 44.5%?

I know that you can't use a straight average due to differences in population, but for the 47% number to be correct someone has to have more than 47% if others are under 47%.

Obviously either the map is flawed or the 47% is flawed. (Or maybe I'm just flawed and not as good at common sense as I thought!)

Posted by: Anon | Sep 27, 2012 8:22:06 AM

Do those payments include payments to the tribes?

Posted by: Sandy P. | Sep 27, 2012 8:47:28 AM

red states usually have FAR lower cost of living. and no I hate the republicans as much as the bext guy but at least in red states they have lower cost of living.. california for example has about 70% of all the welfare recepients..

Posted by: zman | Sep 27, 2012 8:54:12 AM

That's a lot more uniform than I would have expected it to be. Some of those states have very low per-capita income. I think the spread in per-capita income is wider than the spread in zero-tax returns.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Sep 27, 2012 10:29:46 AM

Would be significantly more useful to post by party affiliation or race, but I am sure that is a little too uncomfortable for you to actually do.

Also, to the above commenter, that graph does not show anything about more people living in Red States. It shows that a higher percentage of those living in that state have a zero liability. If you are talking about it in raw 'more people' numbers like you then you'd need a proportional graph.

Posted by: John | Sep 27, 2012 3:28:03 PM

There sure is a lot of Mormons who don't pay taxes.....look at Utah and Idaho.....must be a lot of Mormon Investors who have bank accounts overseas and don't report the income.

One other thing, why should those blue states support those red states with all the non tax payers.....If I had my way we would let the south pay their own way.

Posted by: Sid | Sep 27, 2012 6:12:38 PM

Anon, from the map site:

"To answer a common question: Mitt Romney's 47% figure refers to the percentage of households owing no income tax; our percentages are lower because we're looking only at the percentages of households filing a return and don't account for the 'non-filers.'"

Posted by: Woody | Sep 27, 2012 6:55:21 PM

For Sid and the other lefties here, you need to look at absolute numbers rather than percentages. If the size of the states in the map were weighted by numbers, then California would dwarf the rest of the U.S.

I'm not going to dig for a chart of the 2010 numbers for the map above, but the 2008 numbers are readily available here >>>> States Vary Widely in Number of Tax Filers with No Income Tax Liability. You'll note, for instance, that Mississippi had 567,000 filers with no tax liability while California had 6,084,000. Now, do you get it?

Thank goodness we have the Electoral College or the big welfare states would overwhelm the rest even more.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 27, 2012 9:18:11 PM

Rather than constantly grousing about our supposed "socialist" leanings here in Massachusetts, and for that matter, in the rest of New England, we'd rather that the loudest amongst you, particularly those living is those verdant green states, just say thank you instead. Alternatively, if you can't improve on silence, don't try. Thanks.

Posted by: jim | Sep 28, 2012 6:31:16 AM

From the 2008 records:

Filers with no tax liability:

Mississippi: 567,195
Massachusetts: 866,220

Thanks, jim and Massachusetts.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 28, 2012 9:32:17 AM

What's crazy is that we're looking a chart of states and their percentages. States don't file federal income tax returns where nothing is due. People do...people who are following the Tax Code. The Tax Code creates the problem, and it will only get worse with the "Confiscator-in-Chief" who is adding even more people to the "filing and not paying" list Yet, the self-righteous people in blue states, whose percentages are not that different from the red states but have a lot more people in the freeloader categories, are gloating and wanting thanks! I would thank you if you supported a plan to where every income earner pays something in federal income taxes and quit pushing our nation and the rest of the states over the fiscal cliff.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 28, 2012 9:54:16 AM

Woody you don't get it, california may have a lot of non payers but CA still supports other states like Utah and Georgia......why should we in blue states support red states.....look it up Woody and get your state to stop taking our money... Maybe Romney would allow us to take the taxes we send to Washington and return it to us.....we would do fine without you.

Posted by: Sid | Sep 28, 2012 11:24:06 AM

sid, you're the one who doesn't get it. California has the largest number of people not paying taxes. There are now probably something like 8 million in people in California who file and don't pay any taxes...and that doesn't begin to cover your millions of illegals that you welcome with open arms and who don't even file, along with all of your welfare moms. You're not helping things.

It's states like yours that are making it worse by electing idiots like the "Confiscator in Chief" with his presidential orders for giveaway programs and policies to cut taxes on "the poor" (stupid) people who vote for him. Those policies sure don't originate in Georgia, but people in Georgia have no choice but to follow the laws that you guys made...unless you will excuse us from Obamacare, Obamaphones, and all sorts of handouts that we never asked for at all.

It's your voters who put in the people who create the map above and make it worse. You hate to think that anyone except "millionaires and billionaires" should pay any income taxes.

I saw a poll recently where 71% of people believe that every tax filer should pay something. Would you go along with that or do you prefer to have more people getting a free ride?

Posted by: Woody | Sep 29, 2012 8:58:25 AM

Wood never seems to get it. My comment was that the taxes paid to the federal government are divied out to the states and CA doesn't get its share back and supports states like Woody's which apparently he likes .... I made no comment about non tax payers ...I am talking about the payer not the takers like Georgia and most of the South.....put up or shut up.....tell your congressman you don't want any money from Washington...only your fair share....we in CA would like our fair share .....and would like to quit supporting the sucking south...

Posted by: Sid | Sep 29, 2012 10:31:23 PM

This is a rising problem in our society. Help fight this issue by buying and reading my latest book, The Fable of Bearack Obama. In this book, a brown bear named Bearack becomes hooked on government handouts and becomes unhappy until he relearns the shows and benefits of being a self-sufficient individual. It is only $9.99. You can purchase copies of the book on by going to

Posted by: Joseph Teach | Oct 6, 2012 1:02:29 PM