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In Media Rarity, on Tax Day CBS Points Out Nearly Half Escape Paying Any Income Tax

A day after a CBS News Sunday Morning story fretted that the wealthy aren't paying a high-enough income tax rate without bothering to note how a significant portion of the population avoids paying anything, on Monday's CBS Evening News reporter Bill Plante pointed out: "The day of reckoning with Uncle Sam is less painful for some than for others" since "45 percent of Americans don't owe the government anything today, but they're not the super-rich."

Plante, however, repeated the usual media mantra about how the wealthy are paying less without noting how they pay a disproportionate share. Plante asserted: "The very rich do pay, but they pay a lot less than they used to: 17 percent in 2007, down from 26 percent in 1992."

While he didn't say it, that was a reference to the top 400 individual earners. As the Tax Foundation noted last year, "the average tax rate in 2008 ranged from around 2.6 percent of income for the bottom half of tax returns to 23.27 percent for the top 1 percent" who "paid 38.0 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 20.0 percent of adjusted gross income."

From the Monday, April 18 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Tonight is the deadline for filing federal tax returns, but you might being surprised to learn how many Americans pay no income tax. Here's senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.

BILL PLANTE: The day of reckoning with Uncle Sam is less painful for some than for others. The Tax Policy Institute says 45 percent of Americans don't owe the government anything today, but they're not the super-rich.

ERIC TODER, CO-DIRECTOR, URBAN-BROOOKINGS TAX POLICY CENTER: Many elderly people don't pay any federal income tax. Low-income elderly. The second group of people is low income working people and people with families. We have a large number of credits that have been introduced in the tax system.

PLANTE: The very rich do pay, but they pay a lot less than they used to: 17 percent in 2007, down from 26 percent in 1992, according to the IRS. But Tea Partiers protested around the nation charging that the government takes too much, while the liberal group Move-On.org protested that corporations pay to little....

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.