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Fact Check Thursday: Mitt Romney And The 47 Percent

Mitt Romney (file / credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

Mitt Romney (file / credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It’s Fact Check Thursday, when we put the Presidential campaign ads under the scrutiny of factcheck.org, a nonpartisan non-profit part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Usually, we present this segment on Fridays, but this week, we’re presenting it one day earlier.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot Checks The Facts

Our number of the week is 47.

“47 percent of Americans pay no income tax,” said Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a video released by Mother Jones.

Is Romney right, that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax?

WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot asked factcheck.org’s Rob Farley.

“That’s true,” Farley said. “However, he also went on to say that these people were all dependent upon the government and that’s where he goes astray. Most of these folks are working people who just earn very much money. Therefore they don’t owe any federal income tax.”

So, who are these 47 percent? Working people? Students? Elderly?

“About half of them are people who, because of their standard deductions, they owe no federal income taxes, people who make less than $27,000. You got another 22 percent who are seniors on Social Security. Now those folks may take issue with being called dependent on the government since they paid into Social Security. And then there’s another 15 percent of people that receive tax credits for children and the working poor. Programs that have been supported by both parties throughout the years,” Farley said.

Romney also assumed that those 47 percent who pay no federal income tax vote Democratic.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what,” Romney said.

True or false?

“That’s not correct, particularly in the sense that he says that all of them vote Democratic,” Farley said. “Break it down and look at polling for folks that make under $50,000 or under $36,000 – about 40 percent of those people are supporting Romney.”

“Some of the numbers you pulled up here are kind of astonishing about the people who are paying no federal income tax. There are millionaires who are paying no federal income tax,” Cabot said to Farley.

“That’s right. There’s about 7,000 folks who earn over a million dollars or more and pay no federal income tax, and that’s because there’s various tax expenditures, things like education credits, itemized deductions, and reduced rates on capital gains and dividends,” Farley said. “So, it is possible to make more than a million dollars and pay no federal income tax.”

Also, the states with the highest percentage of non-filers are mostly states that vote Republican.

“These are most of the southern states that typically vote Republican. Conversely, the states that have the percentage of folks who pay no income tax are a lot of the northeastern states that tend to vote Democrat,” Farley said.

We’ll be back with another installment of fact checking next Friday.