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Mitt Romney & the 47% — What He Got Wrong & Why

Holly W. Kelley of Darien writes that of course Mitt Romney needs to worry about that 47 percent who don't pay income taxes—for one thing, it's growing fast as more Baby Boomers retire and live long.

Mitt Romney & the 47% — What He Got Wrong & Why

By Holly W. Kelly

Many have written about how Mitt Romney’s quote regarding the 47 percent who do not pay taxes from the point of view of who those 47 percent are.  I am more concerned with the fact that he said “He doesn’t need to worry about those 47 percent”.  Because the point of even thinking about how many people do not pay federal income tax is to consider the impact that lack of revenue has on the bottom line and what are the trends.

Those who have broken down the 47 percent have pointed out that about 10 percent of these people are seniors collecting Social Security.  Why should a presidential candidate care about that 10 percent?  Consider the number of people who will begin collecting Social Security in the next 10 years.   According to the 2010 Census, 12.7 percent of the U.S. Population is now 65 years and older (this indicates that only 2.7 percent pay taxes). 

But the real problem is that there are another 11.6 percent of Americans reported between the ages of 55 and 64.  Sure some of the 12.7 percent over 65 will be deceased but only 3.4 percent of that 12.7 percent are 80 years old and older. 

So for arguments sake let’s assume that 4 percent of those now 65 and older pass away in the next 10 years (my grandfather lived to be 103 years old).  If that happens we will still have 20.3 percent of Americans over 65 collecting Social Security and most not paying taxes. 

There are many myths about Social Security and many doomed warnings that it is a broken system. Those arguments aside, we must consider the tax impact that our aging population may have. 

This is why any presidential candidate should care about those who do not pay taxes. Mr. Romney might also want to consider the fact that many of those collecting Social Security are conservative older Americans who agree with him on many points and will likely vote for him. 

I doubt you will find too many of them who consider themselves freeloaders after working and paying taxes for 40-50 years. 

Editor's note; Holly W. Kelly, M.S.W. is a Darien resident. The links in this article were added by the editor.

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