The 47 percent: Here's who pays no federal income tax - Economy Watch Just who are the 47 percent? The Tax Policy Center researchers found that about half of the group is basically exempt from federal income taxes because they are low income and also may have a large family. In a blog released not long after its report, the TPC explained that "a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 will pay no federal income tax this year because their $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700 each reduce their taxable income to zero." The other half are zeroing out their federal income tax bill with other provisions, such as itemized deductions or the child tax credit. Some are seniors who are living off Social Security. To be clear, the people in this group are still paying taxes. They are subject to payroll taxes for things like Medicare and Social Security, federal excise taxes on things like gasoline and state and local taxes including sales taxes on items they purchase. Not everyone who pays no federal income tax is in the lower income brackets. A separate report released last spring by the Internal Revenue Service found more than 35,000 people who made more than $200,000 in 2009 also managed to zero out their tax bills. That report noted that it generally takes a number of different credits and deductions for wealthy people to not pay any federal income taxes.