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Romney’s comments about the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay taxes and are dependent on government were not a new theme for Republicans, and it was a largely accurate figure.

About 46 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax in 2011, according to the bipartisan Tax Policy Center, although almost two-thirds of those paid an employment tax to support the Social Security and Medicare programs.

In most cases, it is elderly and poor households that do not pay federal income tax, the center said. About half of those who pay no tax are allowed to do so because their incomes are too low.

— 2 years ago