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The Tax Policy Center earlier this year calculated that 47 percent of households owed no income tax altogether in 2009, kicking off another debate over who should pay.

The center said the percentage of people with no income-tax liability was high last year both because many people saw their incomes drop in the recession, and because government tax benefits were increased under the Recovery Act. If those stimulus measures are allowed to expire, the share of the population that owes federal income tax will increase.