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Who are Mitt Romney’s 47 percent? A breakdown
Question of the Day
What Romney said: “There are 47 percent … who are dependent on government … who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Whether they are dependent and believe they are entitled to anything is arguable, but Romney’s statistic is about right — 49 percent of the U.S. population receive some kind of federal benefits, including Social Security and Medicare, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. Looking only at people who receive benefits that are based on financial need, such as food stamps, the portion is smaller — just over a third of the population. Many people get more than one type of benefit.
The biggest programs and their percentage of the U.S. population:
—Medicaid: 26 percent
—Social Security: 16 percent
—Food stamps: 16 percent
—Medicare: 15 percent
—Women, Infants and Children food program: 8 percent
THOSE WHO PAY NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX
What Romney said: “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”
Romney’s about on target — 46 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax last year, according to a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Most do pay other federal taxes, including Medicare and Social Security withholding. And they’re not all poor. Some middle-income and wealthy families escape income tax because of deductions, credits and investment tax preferences.
Why these people don’t pay:
—About half don’t earn enough money for a household of their size to owe income tax. For example, a family of four earning less than $26,400 wouldn’t pay.
—About 22 percent get tax breaks for senior citizens that offset their income.
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