Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released
April 13th, 2012
08:27 AM ET
2 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. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    And just imagine the Romnies felt pressed to pay a local nanny to raise their kids and do their household chores! So instead, they hired five illegal nannies because it was cost effective just like the investing of his untaxed billions in foreign banks! Talking about a chaep and unfaithful American!

    April 13, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. im rich

    way to go prez bozo, you cheated again while spending $400,000,000 for your jet, limo, housing for your ugly brats and mother-in-law and many vacations including your brat that went to messico with 25 secret service agents. wow lol

    April 13, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. im rich

    nice way to go prez obammy, you cheated again while spending $400,000,000 for your jet, limo, housing for your ugly brats and mother-in-law and many vacations including you brat that went to messico with 25 secret service agents. wow lol

    April 13, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. im rich

    good to go prez obama, you cheated again while spending $400,000,000 for your jet, limo, housing for your ugly brats and mother-in-law and many vacations including you brat that went to messico with 25 secret service agents. wow lol

    April 13, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. cisom

    No politician should be allowed to hire someone to prepare their taxes. Then they would quickly realize the need for tax simplification!!!

    April 13, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    @dale b, NOW that Buffet has amassed his wealth? Buffet has been saying this for years. We finally have a president who is listening.
    Have you seen Buffet's office? Very unassuming in a small building in Nebraska. Compare that to the flip flopper bishop whose new rebuilt will have elevators for their cars!!!
    That's what happens when younhave stolen so much money that you have nothing left to spend it on it on but stupid and unnecessary things.

    April 13, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    @ Rudy -

    From the Chicago Tribune:

    "The FBI is investigating what happened with Solyndra, a solar panel company that got a $535 million government-backed loan with the help of the Obama White House over the objections of federal budget analysts.

    Obama and Vice President Joe Biden got a nice photo op. They got to make speeches about being "green." But then Solyndra went bankrupt. Americans lost jobs. Taxpayers got stuck with the bill."
    ---------
    So Rudy, you can be as dishonest with yourself as you are with everyone, but in reality, you're just making yourself look foolish.

    April 13, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. Ed1

    As obama's spin doctors work their magic they still don't compare apples to apples.

    Obama earned income should be higher than 20.5%

    Mitt Capital gains tax 15% right where the IRS says it should be.

    Capital gains and earned income are two different taxes but the spin doctors will not tell you that.

    I would take a rich president over a president that continues to hide things from the tax payers. Why don't we just have a law that requires people to pay their taxes forgot we do but people who are on Obama's team forgot or just didn't pay their taxes.

    Get over it people I didn't see anyone ask Kennedy to see his tax returns.

    Why should Mitt release his tax returns he doesn't work for the government he is a business man. People just want to see what everyone makes. Why don't we have a law passed that anyone who pay income taxes (not capital gains taxes) they must release their returns so everyone can see them.

    April 13, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Mike

    Do you people really care? What does this have to do with anything? The Capital Gains rate is what it is. And if you increase the rate for them then it should increase for you too. Jealous people who like to sit around and complain instead of getting up and doing something about it. That's the new America. Pathetic.

    April 13, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. S-Hug

    Mitt paid 14.5? My wife and I paid over 21% in taxes for 2011, and we made less than $100,000. I'm not complaining about us, but he should pay his fair share. We hear the rich constantly scream for more tax cuts. I don't see how any warm-blooded American can relate to Mitt.

    April 13, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. Mike

    And the Gov't should be able to get by and then some on what they have. To ask other citizens to pay more without addressing the waste is a stupid & wasteful solution. Just more waste for a vile population.

    April 13, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  12. Joe from Ohio

    Anyone notice how weird Romney looks in jeans? Its like that material has never touched his skin before.

    April 13, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. S-Hug

    My wife and I paid over 21% in taxes for 2011, and we made less than $100,000. Mitt paid 14.5%? I'm not complaining about us, but the rich should pay their fair share. We hear the rich constantly scream for more tax cuts. I don't see how any warm-blooded American can relate to Romney and other billionaires with his philosophy.

    April 13, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Ed1, they release tax returns in Presidential politics because Mitt's dad started the practice, in an effort to be honest. You should be asking, why the son does not honor the father?

    April 13, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    The righties always makes the wealthy out to be victims: it makes the policies they enact taht are class warfare seem sensible to the weak-minded and gullible fools who keep backing them with donations and postings on websites like this one.

    April 13, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Jack

    I'm mystified that all these people making less than 100K are defending the multimillionaire & billionaires. The less they pay in taxes the more you pay. I pay taxes because I love this country. If you love this country (and no one always agrees with all it poilicies all the time) you want to support it. It's your country. Get behind it instead of being self-absorbed. JFK said: Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Still rings true if you are a true patriotic American.

    April 13, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    You're just unbelievable.

    So Rudy, you can be as dishonest with yourself as you are with everyone, but in reality, you're just making yourself look foolish.
    ----------------
    "Who is the more foolish. the fool or the fool who follows him." Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    It's Friday, and I'm having fun acting like a liberal "Truth and Nothing But The Truth".

    Seriously, though. The paperwork was rigged so that the loan wouldn't have to be repaid. How come the money raised from liquidating the company [I think Chinese investors bought it] didn't go towards repaying the loan? It should have, but it didn't. Because it was a loan in name only. Come on, now. Keep up with Rudh, Hannity and O'Reilly. Right wing media still explains this "scam" multiple times per day.

    April 13, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. ReallY!!?

    Funny how the GOP is the war-hungry, I love America crowd, but when it comes to paying for the expensive wars, when it comes to fixing all the broken roads, schools, programs in America, they all want to keep their money like its their own. Fine, it is YOUR money, but don't use any of America's roads, don't depend on America's military to protect you, don't depend on Social Security when you go bankrupt and are too old to work. Don't depend on Paul Ryan and Romney giving a crap about you being too sick to work.
    ________________________________________
    Obama tooks us into 4 wars so give me a freaking break. He was suppose to end all the wars. Why does Obama continue to spend money on Iraq & Afghanistan not to mention, Libya, Eygpt, Kenya and Somalia. Why should the govt help you when u r sick and out of work. Why didn't you save up your money in the event u r out of work and/or sick? Should we continue to strap your kids with an enormous debt to take care of you?

    April 13, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. anagram_kid

    Taran,
    While I wish there was a way to eliminate income tax and instead tax purchased goods, we would simply not raise enough revenue through sales tax alone. There are only so many ‘things’ and services we can purchase.

    April 13, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. Paul

    I find it humorous with the whole Buffet rule non-sense. Its not like the IRS tax forms force you to take any deductions if you choose not to claim them. If Obama and anyone else wanted to "donate" more to the federal government – there is nothing stopping them from doing so.

    So sick and tired of the "their fair share" crap. the % is irrelevant. The total $ that the wealthy lose to the federal govt is so much greater than most want to acknowledge.

    April 13, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. ReallY!!?

    anagram_kid
    U r wrong the Bush Admin passed a law that you can pay any amt over your current tax bill to the IRS. There is no stopping the Obama, Buffett rich guys fr giving more. All they have to do is include a check in their filing.

    April 13, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. anagram_kid

    I personally would have no issue with ‘job creators’ paying a lower rate, if they could objectively prove they reinvested what would have been paid in taxes in actual labor costs. Case in point – how does the money Gov. Romney have in off shore accounts create US jobs?

    April 13, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  23. Randy

    Why we fight over this issue, the real problems don't get addressed. The government is wasteful, bloated, inefficient and panders to special interest groups (both sides). Until the government plays "fair", does their "fair share" and "plays by the same rules", they shouldn't get any more of our tax dollars. Plus, there is a reason for a capital gains tax and why it is at a lower rate. The government has proven time and time again to be a poor guardian of our tax dollars and they don't deserve another dime from anyone. The GSA and Solyandra and the like has proven that the government has more than enough money. Raise the tax rates on the wealthy won't help me one bit. So instead of raising the tax rates on the wealthy, you lower the rates on the middle class. P.S...Obama's tax return proves that he ain't one of us.

    April 13, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. Debbie

    Well the world now knows the Obama's are not rich....They didn't even make a miillion dollars.....Come on Romney, bring out your tax papers....

    April 13, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. al in memphis

    Do you every wonder how capital gain tax got the lower rate than income tax. Its the classic example of what rich can do to tilt the laws in their favor. I'm not saying that all of the capital gain tax provisions are bad, it just that some parts of the system creates an avenue for greedy people to stay greedy.
    when you go to the store, they don't give you a break if you are spending money from capital gains versus regular income?

    BTW– It's funny that people like Palin, Limbaugh can make millions criticizing the president versus what the president income was. That tells you what this country is willing to pay for.

    April 13, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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