Teapublican Lie #8.

“Most Americans don’t pay taxes.”

Lately, Teapublicans have been saying that 51% of Americans don’t pay any taxes at all. They say that those Americans should be forced to “have some skin in the game.” They call them the “Freeloader Class.” And they blame them for the nation’s economic woes.

While it is true that 51 percent of Americans did not pay federal income taxes for tax year 2009, it is not true that they did not pay taxes. It’s not even true (as Teapublicans suggest) that they are lazy, welfare recipients content to sponge off society. In fact, many of those who paid no federal income taxes in 2009 were among the wealthy and the upper middle class!

From an article by PolitiFact.com, Bob Williams, a tax policy specialist at the nonpartisan Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, said there are lots of popular tax breaks, which are sometimes called tax expenditures. “We estimate they total more than a trillion dollars a year in reduced taxes and, in fact, the bulk of those go to the top end of the income distribution,” said Williams.

As for the rest, they are mostly the elderly living on Social Security and those working at minimum wage jobs that don’t make enough to pay federal income taxes. (According to the 2010 Census, one in six Americans now lives below the poverty line.) Yet these people still pay taxes. Many pay payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. All pay sales taxes. Many pay state income taxes and property taxes (even if they rent). And most pay gasoline taxes, beer and liquor taxes, etc. So they do, indeed, “have some skin in the game.”

The real freeloaders are those who are living off the hard work of others – those who have inherited fortunes from their ancestors, Wall Street bankers who are paid enormous bonuses to gamble with others’ money, and those who, by a stroke of luck, have found themselves in a position of power – and taking advantage of a host of tax shelters created by politicians to protect their benefactors.