Half avoid taxes, get help, but many not poor
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney got the math about right. But when he said 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes and are “dependent on government,” he blurred together half or more of the entire country, ranging from the nation’s neediest to its middle class, and even some of its richest families.
Forty-six percent of the country’s potential taxpayers – some 76 million – paid no federal income taxes last year, according to a study by the Tax Policy Center.
While it’s true most of those nonpayers are poor, the numbers include many others who got tax breaks because they are old, have children in college or didn’t owe taxes on interest from state and local bonds. And of those who didn’t write checks to the IRS, 6 in 10 still paid Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, and more than that paid federal excise taxes on items such as gasoline, alcohol and cigarettes, said Roberton Williams, who analyzes taxes at the center.
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