Rick Scott proposed that ‘all Americans’ pay income tax, then denied he did

Senator Rick Scott’s 11-point plan. Photo by Justin DeWalt.

This is presumably a reference to recent estimates of the percentage of US “tax units” that owed no federal income tax.

In an August 2021 analysis, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center valued that approximately 102 million, or 57.1%, of all tax units would have zero or negative income tax in 2021 — slightly lowered for almost 107 million, or 60.6%, of all tax units that owed no federal income tax in 2020.

TPC defines a tax unit such as “a person or married couple who files a tax return or would file a tax return if their income were high enough, and any dependents of that person or married couple.” Those who do not owe income tax to the federal government usually earn too little or qualify for a variety of deductions and refundable tax credits that offset any income tax they should have.

From 2011 to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the estimated percentage of tax units not subject to income tax varied between 42% and 45%. The sharp increase over the past two years was “due to a combination of a poor economy and several rounds of tax relief for struggling households,” as TPC senior researcher Howard Gleckman explained in a statement. . blog post last summer.

Beginning in 2022, assuming the economic recovery continues, TPC projects that the percentage owing no federal income tax will return to pre-pandemic levels and then decline through 2031. This is based on tax policies which were effective as of August 2021, according to TPC. .

So how does Scott justify denying that his proposal would raise income taxes for all these people?

In a statement to FactCheck.org, a spokesperson for Scott said the senator actually only wanted to focus on a subset of U.S. residents who do not pay federal income tax or payroll taxes for the social security and health insurance.

“Senator Scott believes that everyone should pay their fair share and everyone should have their skin in the game,” said Chris Hartline, director of communications for the Republican National Senate Committeethat Scott directs. “There are too many people taking advantage of government services without contributing to the system. This would obviously not include retirees who have paid a lot of taxes or American workers who contribute to the system through income tax or payroll taxes. He thinks there are too many able-bodied Americans choosing not to work, in part because of the policies of Joe Biden and the Democrats, who expanded the welfare state and paid people more not to work than to work. This should change.

But nowhere in Scott’s plan does it say he was referring only to able-bodied non-retirees who receive government benefits but don’t work and pay federal income tax or payroll taxes. This very precise description does not apply to “[o]nearly half of Americans” — the language used in Scott’s plan.

TPC valued that 19.3% – or 34.4 million – of all tax units should owe no federal income taxes or payroll taxes in 2021. That was down from around 20.5%, or 36 million tax units, which did not have to pay tax in 2020 – but against 16.8%, or 29.2 million tax units, which were exempt from these taxes in 2019.

Even these estimates include more people, like Older and disabled Americans, whom the select group that Scott’s spokesman now claims wants to target.


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