ThinkProgress filed this report from the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa.
Conservative legislators and talk show hosts have falsely repeated one of their favorite claims — that poor people don’t pay enough in taxes — multiple times throughout the debt and budget debates, as they attempt to deflect Democratic attempts to ask corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share. The claim has been distorted in multiple ways, whether it’s that nearly half of Americans don’t pay taxes or that the top 1 percent shoulders 40 percent of the nation’s tax burden.
Either way, the claims are false. And today at the Iowa State Fair, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich refused to play along, blowing up the conservative talking point by correctly stating that nearly all Americans pay taxes in some form:
KEYES: There’s been a lot of discussion on the number of people who aren’t paying income taxes. Do you think people are paying enough in taxes?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, virtually everybody pays taxes, ’cause if you go to work, you pay into Social Security and Medicare taxes. We have property taxes. Most states if you buy something, you pay a sales tax. So I don’t find too many Americans who think that they are under, or they are not being taxed enough. [...]
It’s technically true of the income tax. It’s not true of taxes in general.
Gingrich is correct. As ThinkProgress has repeatedly noted, Americans who are not subject to the income tax — primarily senior citizens, students, the unemployed, and the poor — do pay taxes in other forms, whether through payroll taxes, sales taxes, or state income taxes. Less than a quarter of American households do not contribute to federal tax receipts.