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Few Americans pay full tax rate

Romney case puts tax code in focus

Mitt Romney’s disclosure this week that he probably pays close to a 15 percent income tax rate is the latest reminder that most Americans pay far less than the official income tax rates, taking advantage of various wrinkles in the tax code as well as deductions for everything from children to charity.

Wealthy taxpayers like Romney and billionaire Warren Buffett generally pay lower effective tax rates because of laws that tax investment income, which accounts for the bulk of their earnings, at lower rates than wages or salaries. Lower-income and middle-class families benefit from a number of deductions and credits for children, education, housing, and other areas.

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