By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The "47 percent" of U.S. households who owe no federal income tax, memorably disparaged last year by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has shrunk to 43 percent, said the research group that produced the original estimate.
New data on Thursday from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said 43 percent of households will owe no federal income tax in 2013, down from an estimated 47 percent in 2009.
Looking further ahead, the center forecast that by 2024, about a third of households will owe no federal income tax.
Republicans for years had cited the center's figures, but the 47 percent estimate took on a life of its own after Romney was surreptitiously videotaped at a fundraising event during the presidential campaign saying that he would never win votes from that proportion of Americans, who he said relied on government.
Romney, who lost the November election to President Barack Obama, later said his remarks were misinterpreted.
The center's estimate only encompasses the federal income tax. It does not include state and local, Medicare and Social Security, sales, or other taxes.
About half of the 43 percent will owe no federal income tax because their incomes are too low. The other half will face no income tax because they qualify for credits, such as the earned income tax credit and the child credit.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Mohammad Zargham)