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Federal income tax: Idaho among top 10 nonpayer states

The video that has Mitt Romney in some hot water made its way onto the Internet in its entirety on Tuesday.

Online news magazine Mother Jones released hidden camera footage of the Republican presidential candidate making an unscripted statement about Obama supporters at a May fundraiser.

“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, they are victims,” said Romney in the video. “Who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them.”

Romney said his statement was not eloquently put, but he also defended himself Tuesday in an interview with Fox News, reiterating his belief in free enterprise.

Romney was referring to the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, and who he says, won’t vote for him.

Voters weighed in Tuesday afternoon.

“That’s just the way it is nowadays,” said Henny Hoyer. “You can’t say anything, whether you’re the president or Romney, and it’s all over the place.”

“If you’re telling the truth, why should that reflect badly on you?” said Svend Hoyer.

“There’ll be this comment, something else will come up down the road, and then the same thing for the Obama camp,” said John Orose.

Romney’s statements prompted further conversation about taxes in the United States. According to a map released by the Tax Policy Center, Idaho has the 10th largest share of people who don’t pay federal income taxes.

Cooper Norman account manager Mark Pryor said it’s because of a unique state and unique group of taxpayers.

Pryor pointed to a lower per capita income, along with farmers and small business owners who can take advantage of some of the tax breaks.

Idahoans aren’t choosing not to pay their taxes. They’re not pulling one over on the Feds or doing anything wrong. Under current tax structure, said Pryor, they just don’t owe anything.

The map marked states with the highest rates of non-payers.

“Non-payers by state,” said Pryor. “That’s kind of a misnomer, because if you have a job in this country, you’re paying tax.”

But the map refers specifically to federal income tax. And Pryor said most of the states highlighted in red are among the lowest income in the U.S. He said Idaho ranks 49th.

“The incomes are what they are,” said Pryor. “We’re not going to shortfall our tax burden, but we’re not going to leave any money on the table either.”

Pryor said Idaho is an entrepreneurial state and current tax code favors entrepreneurs. There are also a lot of farmers.

“A lot of credits are available for farmers, the small business tax credit,” said Pryor.

Many can also claim a $1,000 credit per child.

“A lot of people in this state have larger families, so qualify for more credits along those lines,” said Pryor.

But dramatic changes could be on the way if the Bush tax cuts expire.

“All that’s going to hinge on who gets elected president, what’s the composition of Congress, and the state of the economy,” Pryor said.

U.S. Census Bureau data shows Idaho’s median household income is about $46,400. That’s $5,500 less than the national average.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes of more than $1 million ended up not owing any federal income tax in 2011.

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