Are You in the 47 Percent? - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Are You in the 47 Percent?

Source: Tax Policy Center - Urban Brookings Source: Tax Policy Center - Urban Brookings

Are you one of the people who doesn't pay federal income taxes? Do you know someone who is exempt? You might be surprised to learn what factors place a person in that group.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans this week after video was released in which he said almost half of all Americans "pay no income tax" and would vote for President Barack Obama because they are "victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them."

At a $50,000-a-plate closed-door private fundraiser in Florida in May, Romney said: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what...who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what."

Romney's numbers are slightly off, but it is true that 46 percent of United States citizens old enough to file taxes, about 76 million people, did not pay federal income taxes in 2011.

In the 46 percent, half of the people are exempt because of tax credits taken for deductions, and the other half because of low income. For instance, a couple earning less than $26,400 pays no federal income tax. A mother and father with two children making $45,775 would also pay no federal income tax.

Most of the people in the 46 percent still pay taxes in the form of state and local taxes and taxes on purchases and gasoline. More than half of that group still pays payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare in addition to the other taxes, according to the The Tax Policy Center.

Among Americans who do not pay federal income taxes, 23 percent are low-income and 10 percent are elderly. Seven percent receive credits for children, and 6 percent take a variety of tax deductions for things like education, disability, and city bonds, according to the Center. Also exempt are U.S. military personnel deployed to war zones.

The highest percentage of people in the 47 percent live in Mississippi, where 45 percent of the residents pay no federal income tax. Other high-percentage states include Arkansas with 41 percent, Georgia with 41 percent, Alabama with 40 percent, and Louisiana with 39 percent. See the full map here:


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