The Fact Checker has carefully examined Mitt Romney's statement that 47% of the population is "dependent on government" and awarded it three Pinocchios, meaning it is a "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions." The worst possible rating is four Pinocchios. In a very literal sense, everyone is dependent on government. Without the police--a government function--America would be Sudan, with roving bands of criminals stealing and marauding in broad daylight.
But Romney was not talking about police protection or roads built by the government. He has often said there are two kinds of people: makers and takers and he was implying that 47% of the population are takers, essentially mooching on the other 53%. The number, 47%, is the number of people who pay no federal income tax for various reasons. It includes elderly people who live entirely on social security, students who earn too little to pay, and multimillionaires whose income comes entirely from tax-free municipal bonds, just to name a few categories. It also includes families with low incomes who take advantage of the Earned Income Credit (EIC), which was signed into law in 1975 by President Gerald Ford. Here is a detailed breakdown of the 47%. To categorize a millionaire who is invested entirely in tax-free bonds as "dependent on government" or as a "taker" is patently false. There are an estimated 4000 millionaires who pay zero federal tax.