Mitt Romney thinks that the poors should take "personal responsibility" for their lives and pay taxes. How many hours would you have to work at a minimum wage job before you actually pay taxes? The answer will shock you.
How long a work day would you need to put in at a minimum wage job to pay federal income taxes? Because it's Romney's comment, let's use his family profile. We'll have two parents, one of whom works. And let's limit it to two children rather than Romney's five to avoid an unseemly number of exemptions.
So we have four exemptions at $3,700 each plus the standard deduction of $11,600. So even without tax credits, you would need $26,400.
Because one spouse isn't working, there is no child care tax credit. There could be up to $2,500 in education credits per child-but let's say the kids are younger and go with the lower $1,000 child tax credit for both of them. So that's a $2,000 credit. To owe taxes at this point, you'd need $19,000 in taxable income-or $45,400 in total income. This still a hair below the EIC phaseout in this case. So to hit zero exactly you would need a few more dollars to bring your annual income to $45,750.
In a given year, you have about 260 work days. Let's say you work a full day on all of them. This means that any vacation, sick days, or holidays you want had better be paid. To make your $45,750, you need to bring in $174.62 a day. Let's round that down to $174 to make the math work out more smoothly.
You're earning the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. To get to $174 a day, you'll need to work for ... 24 hours. Congratulations. You can sleep on the weekends. If you want to get down to an 8 hour day, you'll need to earn at least $21.75. (You still have to work every day.) Good luck finding an early-career job that pays that well.
(Chicken feed graphic via Bigstock)