The famous “47 percent” are now down to 43 percent

August 29, 2013

Remember that moment in the 2012 campaign when Mitt Romney was caught on tape lamenting the fact that "Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax"? Sure you do.

Well, it turns out that stat needs updating. The Tax Policy Center reports that the 47 percent is now down to 43 percent, as more and more households paid income tax in 2013:

The Tax Policy Center chalks the change over the past few years up to the improving economy, (slowly) rising incomes, and the expiration of various stimulus-era tax cuts. Those all add up to more people getting hit with income taxes. If current trends hold, the number of households that don't pay income tax is expected to fall to 34 percent by 2024.

The TPC also has a video explaining why this metric isn't nearly as revealing as it seems. As was the case before, most of those who don't pay income taxes still pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. And a big chunk of the rest are retirees.

(Link thanks to my colleague Karen Tumulty.)

Related: Who doesn't pay taxes, in eight charts

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Sarah Kliff · August 29, 2013