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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. jo an

    Romney needs to release his tax returns...I'm also interested in how many guns each have....

    April 13, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. ReallY!!?

    MP in VA-Stop trying to say that President Obama is "demonizing" the rich. He is clearly not. The reality of the current tax system is this: the rich will always have to pay a higher percentage of the taxes under our system–ALWAYS. They payed a heck of a lot more 50 years ago. There comes a point, however, when the percentage the rich pay will be too low to sustain our government–any government, whether it be a Republican one or a Democratic administration. When the Bush tax cuts took effect, we reached that point where the upper income tax rate went below what our government could sustain, and our coffers were wiped out. What the current Administration is doing is trying to get that percentage back up to where it was before Bush dropped it further without massive hits to Medicare, Defense, and Social Security.
    _______________________________
    Not true and yes OBAMA IS demonizing the rich. Please go to IRS.gov to see the tax burden of the top 10% (it is 60% of what is collected) Secondly, the Rich paid more and the country suffered. Don't u remember the Great Depression. When the tax burden was lifted the country started to prosper. Look at the difference bet Carter & Reagan. Lastly the Bush tax cut was done becaue he inherited a recession made worse by 9/11. Something had to be done to spur the economy. It did and CNN Money reported the IRS collected more in revenue than ever in its lifetime. Research it! What killed us was the Barney Frank/Dodd morons in Congress that legislated that everyone wiht a pulse should have a house and regulated that the Banks give them mortgates which were bundled and sold as assets on the stock market. Bush saw it coming and tried to stop it. But both Dodd and Obama (senator) filibuster it. Bush never had a filibuster proof majority unlike Obama & could not stop it. Won't hear that on the new. Look to the history channel or research it for yourself.

    April 13, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. pam

    So Obama wants rich people to pay 30% of their income for taxes and democrats think this is fair. It is only fair that they pay that much if all Americans pay that much. Lets just have a flat tax of 30% that we all pay then, who is with me? (crickets). The ones barking the loudest for this are the 47% that pay no tax and a good chunk that get more tax than they pay in. Hypocrisy.

    April 13, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Ms. Romney said she couldn't go out in the real world and earn a wage because she was too busy raising her kids! Yet when her kids were old enough to take care of themselves, she still refused to go out and find a job and pay taxes and contribute to society like the rest of us! What a loser!

    April 13, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. dormdocblog

    Obama's such a hypocrite. He paid 20% of his income in taxes, and yet he wants increase taxes on "rich" people making $250k per year. People who make $250 k – $500k per year pay a max rate of THIRTY FIVE PER CENT of their income. This is a higher rate ANYONE else, almost TWICE the rate Obama paid. And you can bet he's got hotshot accountants putting money in trusts in his girls' names.

    April 13, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    ReallY??! wrote on page 10;

    ....He has had over 3yrs, 2 of which he had full control of the HOuse & Senate and could have passed the Buffet rule, let the Bush tax cut expire etc and all povery would be gone. Instead Obama himself extended the Bush tax cut. So give me a freaking break about the rich not paying their fair share when the IRS shows that the rich pays over 70% of the federal income taxes!!!.....
    -------------------
    You see? This is another of the classic misrepresentations, or maybe it's just a willfully seeded misconception, that the right wing has convinced people of. Democrats did not enjoy 2 years of a filibuster proof majority.

    In fact, Democrats did not have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate at no time under the Obama administration. There were 58 Democrats. 40 Republicans, and 2 Independents. One of those Independents was a Senator named Leiberman, who was against Obama as a candidate, and against nearly every piece of legislation Democrats put forth. Even then, those numbers only lasted a few months until the summer of 2009 when Ted Kennedy died.

    I mean, come on. Scott Brown took the oath in January 2010, one year after Obama was in office. You conservatives have been gravely misled, and it shows.

    April 13, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. I'm just sayin'

    I hope the President is going to act with some integrity and just cut a check for the extra amount he would pay under his own proposals. Warren, too.

    April 13, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. LolDems

    So many ignorant comments. The reason the capital gains tax is low is to incentivize investments in business which in turn, creates wealth, jobs, improves the standard of living, etc. The BO plan is to raise taxes so government can invest in businesses...like solar Solyndra...or help out the unemployed since the government can't create jobs. If fairness was so important to BO, he could've raised them back in 2009/2010. But since he didn't really know what he was doing since he hadn't any experience, he missed that opportunity, aka he screwed up. But most leftylibdems will vote for him anyway, like lemmings rushing to their demise because they like the tune.

    So BO is not paying his fair share. He doesn't pay for room and board and transportation. Why not put your money where your mouth is BO and write a check? Probably 'cuz there's no room in his mouth on account of his foot.

    April 13, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    How about the money Obama gets from the unions and the Mafia in Chicago? Is that not taxable?

    April 13, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Pardon me for interrupting, righties - but using the argument that it's OK Mitt has a much lower tax rate on his millions simply because he has millions more to invest ...and every tax hole under the book to shield him... than most Americans will have earned their entire lifespan, yet will continue paying a higher rate than Romney, isn't what I'd call a winning argument.

    To quote a previous blogger "I wouldn't go out in public promoting that".

    April 13, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. ReallY!!?

    pam
    I am with you. Uncue the crickets. I pay more than Obama. My current tax rate is 35% and I earned in the low $200K. I have 3 kid to school, feed, clothe, provide a roof over their heads, & put them thru college. I can do that if Obama would stop trying to give my money to the waitress that has 2 jobs and 2 kids. Her expenses are just the same as mine. I just worked harder and sacrifice to get where I am with education, & being responsible.

    April 13, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Ed Sr

    No, the only money that's tax is what your mama earned lying on her back! Moron!

    April 13, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. truth

    How many of you sheep on here invest in the stock market now? I bet that # will be a lot less if they raise the taxes on the money you make from risking your money they have already taxed. Same goes for the wealthy. less incentive to invest = less investing and moving their money to other things......insert price is right fail music "bum bum ba dum".

    April 13, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. Kim

    I don't resent, nor am I jealous of, Mitt Romney's money. He doesn't need to apologize to me or anyone else for what he has. I actually admire the man for being such a savvy businessman. What I DO resent is that he and others like him don't pay the same percentage of their income in taxes as I do. He didn't do anything illegal. The laws need to be changed.

    April 13, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. ReallY!!?

    In fact, Democrats did not have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate at no time under the Obama administration. There were 58 Democrats. 40 Republicans, and 2 Independents. One of those Independents was a Senator named Leiberman, who was against Obama as a candidate, and against nearly every piece of legislation Democrats put forth. Even then, those numbers only lasted a few months until the summer of 2009 when Ted Kennedy died.
    _______________________________________
    You sir are a moron that cannot count!!! the 2 Independent consistenly vote/caucus with the DEMOCRATS!! That puts the total number of senators that the dems have, that voted to pass the healthcare law without any republican support, at 60!! And that you idiot is a filibuster proof majority!!! Nice try moron. Go pander ur lies elsewhere!

    April 13, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    LolDems wrote page 12:

    So many ignorant comments. The reason the capital gains tax is low is to incentivize investments in business which in turn, creates wealth, jobs, improves the standard of living, etc....If fairness was so important to BO, he could've raised them back in 2009/2010. ...
    ----------------
    The opening diatribe is what is formally known as "trickle down" economic theory. And, here's another one telling the myth about how Democrats had a filibuster proof Senate majority for two years. Totally having forgotten about Joe Lieberman voting with Republicans, Ted Kennedy passing in Aug. 2009, and worst of all.

    Scott Brown took the oath in Jan. 2010 giving Republicans 41 Senate seats.

    April 13, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  17. ricosuave11

    Obama is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. Obama would not pay extra under the Buffet rule as he has been claiming for a year now. Obama has used every tax trick in the book to gip the taxpayers out of tens of thousands, yet he claims other don't pay their fair share. He even used his daughters as tax shelters, gifting them over forty thousand dollars to avoid paying taxes on it. Also, Michelle listed her occupation as First lady, and they have not claimed any of the millions of tax payer dollars for their lavish trips as income. Wake up america.

    April 13, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  18. ReallY!!?

    Rudy NYC
    I see u failed math so let me help u.
    58 Democrats + 2 Independent = 60 which is a filibusterproof majority which is what the DEMS had for Obama's 1st 2yrs in office. That is how they were able to pass stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd/Frank bill and may other horrilble legislation that is now choking our economy without any support fr the Repubs.
    You obviously heard the crap u r spewing fr the MSM that rely on fools like you that cannot count or have the logic to figure/factoring the 2 Independents that vote/caucus with the Dems. Yep it is people that are easily fooled like you, why this country is going to down the tubes.

    April 13, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Steve

    So much silly talk from Repulicans. Always mistating facts or making things up. The Capitals gains do not create jobs. The only thing that creates jobs is if a compnay needs to increase production. They sell stock. Once it is sold there is no other financing required. Poeople then trade the stock and the only jobs that may be created are at the brokerage houses. 15% is way to little to pay in taxes for these people. I earn way less and pay almost what the President pays percentage wise. If everyone that has posted here voted in their own self interst we would all agree that the capital gains tax should be raised.

    April 13, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. amf140

    Obama's tax returns as President are not relevant to this discussion. No President is stupid enough to cheat on his tax returns. What I would like to see is Obama's tax returns before he was a candidate for President and as far back as when he was a state Senator from Illinois. I am sure that we will find an elitist in that wood pile.

    April 13, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. mickey lane

    Why dont't you go back & look At Michelle's working record? She was paid hundreds of thousands for 20 hours a week but records show that the woman was barely there. & when her husband became a senator (Barack) moneys which were allocated for Illinois went directly to the healthcare company she worked for & then lo & behold that phanto,t hard working Michelle was gives a huge raise/bonus? For what?

    April 13, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. Debra from Georgia

    Where are your 2011 taxes, and what are you hiding?

    April 13, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    "You obviously heard the crap u r spewing fr the MSM that rely on fools like you that cannot count or have the logic to figure/factoring the 2 Independents that vote/caucus with the Dems."

    Speaking of spewing fools, you do know that the Dems only had a filibuster proof majority for seven non-consecutive months, right? Think Ted Kennedy and Al Franken. Do you even know your recent political history or are you as clueless as you sound?

    April 13, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. ReallY!!?

    Steve

    So much silly talk from Repulicans. Always mistating facts or making things up. The Capitals gains do not create jobs. The only thing that creates jobs is if a compnay needs to increase production. They sell stock. Once it is sold there is no other financing required. Poeople then trade the stock and the only jobs that may be created are at the brokerage houses. 15% is way to little to pay in taxes for these people. I earn way less and pay almost what the President pays percentage wise. If everyone that has posted here voted in their own self interst we would all agree that the capital gains tax should be raised.
    __________________________________________________________
    Dumbest post ever!!!! Explain to us how a company increase production? Do they hire more? Buy more equipment? If companies are buying more equipment who makes them? Cows? If they hire more who r they hiring? Obama sheeps such as yourself?

    April 13, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. mickey lane

    Anyway, if he feels he,BO, should pay more taxes, WRITE A CHECK, & then call Buffet to pay-up what he thinks should be additional to the taxes he has already paid. Better still ask Buffet to set-up a few manufacturing companys right here in the good old USA! People will have jobs, the economy will improve and all theearnings can be reinvested to keep the business flowing! & you also get to pay the taxes you are responsible for. Oh, Oh you can get Soros to the same?

    April 13, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16