FORT MYERS, Fla. - Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney isn't backing off his controversial comments about Americans who don't pay federal income tax. In a secretly recorded conversation at an expensive fundraiser, the former Massachusetts Governor claimed 47 percent of Americans will vote for President Obama because they feel entitled to food and healthcare.
But the Presidential Candidate is using an often cited, but misleading, figure.
47 percent of Americans don't pay the Federal Income Tax, but that doesn't mean they don't pay any taxes. And it doesn't mean they're beholden to government handouts.
According to a breakdown from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, 53.6 percent of Americans pay Federal Income Tax and 46.4 percent don't pay.
But 28 percent of them do pay into the Federal Payroll Tax for Social Security and Medicare.
Only 18 percent of Americans don't pay either Federal Income or the Payroll tax. Of that group, 10 percent are elderly and retired. Many retirees aren't taxed on their social security benefit. That leaves us with about 7 percent of Americans who are non-elderly residents making under $20,000 a year. But they still pay local and state taxes.
Many of those households who fall under the 47 percent don't pay Federal Income Tax because they qualify for enough deductions that their tax liability has shrunk to zero. A lot of those deductions and credits are part of the Bush Tax Cuts, which Romney wants to extend.