Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released
April 13th, 2012
08:27 AM ET
3 years ago

Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released

(CNN) – The fight over how best to tax the American people turned to the personal finances of the two competing presidential candidates Friday, as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden released their 2011 tax returns and called for all-but-certain GOP nominee Mitt Romney to do the same.

The move comes after a week of aggressive promotion from the White House and Obama's reelection campaign on the so-called "Buffett Rule," a measure increasing the tax rate to 30% for Americans making more than $1 million per year.

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The tax returns released by the White House showed Obama and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, made $789,674 in income in 2011, and paid an effective federal tax rate of 20.5%. Biden and his wife made $379,035 and paid $87,900 in total federal tax.

In a post on the White House blog accompanying the returns' release, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wrote the president's proposed "Buffett Rule" would actually increase the percentage of income the Obamas would pay in taxes.

"Under the President's own tax proposals, including the expiration of the high-income tax cuts and limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it," Carney wrote.

Jim Messina, the campaign manager of Obama's reelection bid, called on Romney to release his 2011 tax return in a statement.

"Mitt Romney's defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question - what does he have to hide?" Messina wrote.

He continued, "Governor Romney may try once again to play by his own set of rules, but Americans will hold him accountable for trying to hide his record."

The deadline for filing 2011 taxes is Tuesday, though taxpayers may request an extension from the Internal Revenue Service.

Anticipating the pressure to release Romney's tax returns, the former Massachusetts governor's campaign said Obama's campaign was diverting attention from a failed economic record, adding that Romney would release his documents as soon as they're filed.

"It's no surprise with the worst job creation record in modern history that President Obama would try to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows," Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "Gov. Romney has already released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 income and taxes. He will release his full 2011 return when it is filed."

Romney's tax returns previously arose as an issue in January, when Democrats along with fellow Republican presidential candidates pressured Romney's campaign to release the documents.

On January 24, Romney's team released his 2010 tax return, as well as an estimate for 2011. Opponents quickly derided the disclosure as paltry, noting that other candidates, including Romney's father during his run for the GOP nomination in 1968, released a decade's worth of tax returns.

The forms the campaign did release showed Romney earned $42.7 million over the past two years and paid $6.2 million in taxes. Over the two years, Romney's effective tax rate - the percentage of his income that he owed in federal income taxes - was 14.5%.

Democrats, eager to align themselves with middle class voters, quickly assailed Romney for paying a low tax rate while earning millions of dollars.

On Thursday, Biden slammed Romney at a campaign stop in New Hampshire for promoting a "Romney Rule" on taxes that would benefit only millionaires like him – a harsh comparison to the "Buffett Rule" Democrats are promoting.

"The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do," Biden said Thursday. "The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year."

Obama's 2010 tax return showed the president earned $1,728,096 and paid $453,770 in income taxes.

CNN's Jim Acosta and Paul Steinhauser and CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Taxes
soundoff (390 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Do you right wingnuts really think that we need to create a safety net for billionaires by giving them more tax cuts? If Mittens is elected, he will be known as the first "Food Stamps For Billionaires President."

    April 13, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  2. jyacito

    And don't forget all those expenses the Romenys had with maids, gardeners, etc., so poor distressed Ann could raise her children in the manner to which they are accustomed. People don't realize how hard it is to look through J. Crew catalogues and ride horses. And what if her Calillacs needed repair? I bet that all came from her own pocket.

    April 13, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  3. king

    I really wants to see how much mitten have been raping the American economy of its taxes for last 10 years. Taxes is what runs this country, and if mitten have been starving the American economy of need revenues by stashing his money in off shore accounts, especially through captive times, the people of American needs to know about it. How can a tax cheat runs for president and stand for morality. This not about the small amour that you make rich mitten, this about the majority that you allow to survive.

    April 13, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  4. GI Joe

    Lay off Dems - Mitt is having it amended and will release it as soon as it's finished.

    April 13, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Back when Mitt Romney was in the midst of completely mishandling the tax return issue, he was asked whether or not he planned to release any returns. His response is what got him into trouble. He said the he would release returns after the election, provided that he won.

    While there is no legal requirement for candidates to release returns, the public has a right to know how the POTUS earns a living and who pays him to do what. It seems that Mitt Romney has a lot hide. This is a problem.

    April 13, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. Marie MD

    All the money that both the President and Vice President have made in all their working lives probably doesn't even come close to one year of what this flip flopper makes. $10M just in interest? That was what he made last year nit counting offshore safe accounts!

    April 13, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    No Cayman Island accounts? No Swiss bank accounts?

    Mitt Romney 1994 quote: "The blind trust is an age-old ruse. You give a blind trust rules. You can say to a blind trust, don't invest in properties which would be in conflict of interest or where the seller might think they're going to get an advantage from me."

    Reviewing Romney's previous comments is always a fascinating read in itself. Corporations are people too.... You can say to a blind trust.... Seamus enjoyed riding on the car roof.... Brings a whole new light to why Romney is constantly criticizing this President's every move. Mitt reminds me of a loner who has problems associating with others, spending a great deal of time trying to make up for his own inferiority complex by attacking others while transferring his personal issues of "inferiority" to them. Rather juvenile, but Mitt doesn't come across as quite "grown up" either.

    April 13, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  8. American

    Romney refuses to release his previous tax returns for the American people, and the one he did provide was less than forthright. Many Americans simply do not trust what Romney is hiding.

    If it were not bad enough, Romney wants to eliminate paying any taxes with his disastrous Ryan scheme, while raising costs on seniors.

    April 13, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  9. Madison

    I don't get it.
    The buffet rule is based on INCOME TAX RATES. Gov. Romney is not employed so he doesn't pay INCOME TAX. His money comes from capital gains and investments which are taxed at a completely different rate. He pays FULL required taxes and people are making a fuss over him only paying a 14.5% rate? Does anyone get their tax bill and say "gee, I think I'm going to pay MORE in taxes cause I feel like it." ?? The focus should not be on how much Romney makes or pays in taxes but it should be the tax code itself. Under Obama's "buffet rule" Mitt would pay the same amount as he does now. Millionaires and Billions already pay an average of over 30% in income taxes. This whole thing is a gimmick to get middle class Americans who envy success to get fired up for Obama. I hate the phrase, but it is literally class warfare. Obama is pitting one group against another even though he knows the top 1% already pay well over their "fair-share" in taxes. The ones that aren't are the nearly 50% of Americans who don't pay taxes at all.

    April 13, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  10. Al-NY,NY

    Romneys camp......"we'll get back to you later on that"

    April 13, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Mad woman

    For those of you using the Ann Romney is rich and has so much help as a stay at home mom; First of all, no amount of money can cover the mental and physical stresses associated with raising a family and add to that her health problems. Second, if having maids and nannies and drivers suddenly makes her less of a real home-working mom, lets talk about Michelle Obama and the fact that she has ALL of that and a hundred secret service agents and mountains of other taxpayer-funded perks to raise her family including their house. Get a grip.

    April 13, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. Dave

    Are elevators for your 12 cars for your 12 homes deductable???

    April 13, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  13. American

    Saul sadly continues the lies of the Romney campaign. The worst job creation was actually under Pres. Bush as reported by the WSJ. Many of these same failed policies Romney wants to go back & reinstate.

    April 13, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. NJ Pilot

    President Obama paid 26.25% tax rate. Just about the same as middle-class me. My guy

    April 13, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  15. Truth001

    Obama paid 30% on his taxes what a contrast to Romney super Mitt hide your money in the Islands Swiss bank accounts feed the rich I don't care about the poor Romney!

    April 13, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. Gurgyl

    Romney's 13.4% is shame and sad bain-capital.

    April 13, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. blahblahblah

    Doesn't that put Obama in the same 1%?

    April 13, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  18. Dave

    Yo Bishop Romney, Why you be hatin when it comes to makin the disabled go thru hoops to vote? Aint their voters card enough? Why the new rules????/

    April 13, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. Dave

    Yo Bishop Romney, Its a Fact that your Mormon Buddies at Bain Lobbied hard for Congress to give you that special 13.8 %. Why you so special to pay about a third of the workin mans rate?????

    April 13, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  20. Dave

    What , to strong???

    April 13, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. Jules

    Will Romney release as far back as the other candidates have? My thought is that the reason he hasn't is that we will find out that he, himself was responsible for putting his funds in offshore accounts and it was not his "blind trust" after all. I think there is something wrong when you want to be President of the United States but you don't want to support this country by keeping your money here and by paying your fair share in taxes.

    April 13, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  22. Dave

    Make no mistake about it its the middle class against Bishop Romey this Election.

    April 13, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. Fair is Fair

    I don't understand why Romney's tax returns are such a campaign issue when there's so many more issues to focus on. Everyone knows Romney is wealthy... so what? What is the crime about being wealthy? Why are people so envious / jealous / resentful? Our family doesn't have a lot, but we're grateful for what we do have... and we're not covetous of anyone else.

    April 13, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  24. nilla

    Sure, Romney released his tax return for 2010, but it listed his father's race as "African", so it's obviously a fake.

    April 13, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  25. Scott

    Obama and Biden, now that they doctored their tax returns they are ready to release them. they sure are trying hard to divert everyone away from the big problem of the ecomony. Saw the reports, new unemployment claims are on the rise. Failed leadership, failed policy's Obama;s trade mark.

    Romney 2012/2016

    April 13, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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