Eight of the top 10 states with the highest number of nonpayers are red states.
One important note about these numbers: This measures only those Americans who filed for taxes with no liability. Millions more didn’t even file; it’s those millions, added to the estimated 52 million here, who combine to make that 47 percent.
It’s important to remember that just because people aren’t paying income tax doesn’t mean they’re not paying taxes — they pay federal payroll taxes and state and local sales taxes, for example. One those taxes are factored in, the tax regime is basically flat. And the reason that most income tax nonpayers don’t pay is they simply don’t make enough income to qualify to pay. As one might expect, the map of states with the highest poverty levels resembles this map fairly closely. Many of them are also seniors, a highly contested voting bloc. Just more than 10 percent of households pay no income tax because they’re retired. They might also be voters in places like Florida who are already jumpy about the changes to Medicare and Medicaid that the Romney-Ryan ticket has proposed — although they would be mostly unaffected by those reforms.