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. n

    Romney u are only for rich people. Y are lier. Americans will never thrust u

    April 13, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. Liz the First

    Dear PATRIOTIC TAXPAYER,
    ditto!!! you are now tied with Sniffit as my favorite poster. you said it all. i, too, am proud to pay my taxes, which, btw, JESUS TOLD US TO DO, and i wish i had more to pay because it would mean i made more money.

    April 13, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. Bill

    Could we see Mr. Obama's tax returns for the past ten years please?

    April 13, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. Bill

    So, do we know that Romney has offshore accounts or is this just some sort of stupid ass umption?

    April 13, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. From Canada - watching in amazement

    So when are all you people asking and blaming your PRESIDENT Obama going to ask any republican for their birth certificate - or university records – etc etc HYPOCRITES all of you. ask one ask all -

    April 13, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. ron

    Jen, that is exactly what the Buffet Rule is trying to fix. Please, don't tell me you think it's cool to "not work" AND pay only 15% tax on 20 million dollars because it's called capital gains instead of income??? If anything, I would think those who "work" for their income would get a lower rate than those who sit at home and earn interest.

    April 13, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  7. From Canada - watching in amazement

    always, always awaiting moderation!!! CNN – dont you care about your overseas viewrs Maybe not!!!

    April 13, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Jay

    If they would just hide their money in the Cayman Island, and open up a Swiss bank account they would not have to pay so much.

    April 13, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. dljr60

    The President is pressing Americans to PAY MORE TAXES and has done little to enable businesses to CREATE MORE JOBS. We need leadership who has larger aspirations than merely collecting taxes like feudal Lords.

    April 13, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. Jim

    Here's a simple solution to this debate.

    Congress passes a law that requires everyone to file the 1040-EZ form. Eliminate any 'restrictions', and everyone gets the same deduction regardless of their income. A single person for 2011 is $9,500 and a married couple is $19,000.

    But, it'll never happen, since all the politicians are millionaires, and fellow millionaires/billionaires put and keep them in office.

    I'd like to hear if you have a simpler/better idea?

    April 13, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Chipster

    Here we go again. Republicans claiming we need to lower the corporate tax rate from 35%, blah, blah, blah! I have a great idea – give 'em what they want ! Lower the corporate tax rate to ...... oh, let's say 25%. Yeah, 25%! That's a pretty big cut, right! But let's remove all the loopholes and, if we do that, corporations will pay about 10% more than they're paying now. That's right, after all the loopholes and breaks, corporations in the U.S. actually pay about 12-15%. So, lowering the rate to 25% would be a pretty big INCREASE! Do it, because we need the revenue to pay for Bush's unfunded Medicare Part D and huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

    April 13, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  12. Chipster

    @Jeff
    Obama did release his REAL birth certificate. Nobody ever releases their collage transcripts or homework assignments, or notes they might have passed in class because normal people don't care about mindless Internet conspiracy theories. The President graduated from Harvard where he was President of the Harvard Law Review. His record is impressive enough. Occidental College long ago dispelled the nonsense about bogus application claims. It has been clear for quite a while that the President is not hiding anything. It's really hard to hide anything from the CIA, FBI and election opponents so take off the tin hat already. It's just silly and boring now.

    April 13, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  13. Bravo

    Well said Patriotic Taxpayer!!!!

    April 13, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  14. tired

    to all americans wake up please would u like to know how much tax money was generated from all our pockets as a whole I sure would ! where does it go and why can't everyone decide on how its spent such as a vote we are being robbed! the government gives money in forms of grants so this means they have our money they are sitting on doing what they want to do with the nations money wow! sounds like some people in government needs to go to prison again!

    April 13, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  15. Dynahog

    There is no reason for Mitt Romney to release his personal finance records at this time. This is Jump The Gun politics by these Democrats rightfully worried they will lose the November Election.

    Let Mitt Romney complete the Republican Primaries, attend the Republican Convention, and get the nomination for President of the United States of America. Also let Romney pick his Vice President and announce at his pleasure.

    The only thing VP Joe Biden need worry about is as POLLS fall on Obama, they may kick him off that O-Team in the Democrat Convention (likely before).

    P.S. I care less about what tax rate O's secretary or B's secretary pays. What I want to know is the income and tax rates of the 22 Assistants to Michelle Obama!

    April 13, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. Larry L

    You're just another moronic 'birther". Every person born in Hawaii got the same certificate of birth. If you've paid attention at all you've seen it a hundred times. The REPUBLICAN Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle certified the validity of the certificate. John McCain told you you were making the Republican Party look foolish and stupid. You are showing your racist core and you do not deserve to call yourself an American for this dishonest and unpatriotic behavior. Concern for politics is honorable, racism is evil.

    April 13, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  17. Larry L

    @samikep

    "It is funny that Obama will not release his long form birth certificate"
    ----------------------------------------------
    Here we have another moronic 'birther". Every person born in Hawaii got the same certificate of birth. If you've paid attention at all you've seen it a hundred times. The REPUBLICAN Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle certified the validity of the certificate. John McCain told you you were making the Republican Party look foolish and stupid. You are showing your racist core and you do not deserve to call yourself an American for this dishonest and unpatriotic behavior. Concern for politics is honorable, racism is evil.

    April 13, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  18. Matt

    Obama only paid a 20% tax rate and Biden donated less than 1.5% of his income to charity.

    And these guys want to call Romney to the mat on taxes?

    April 13, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  19. 66Biker

    I bet'cha Twit Romney hasn't even filed his 2011 tax return yet. Oh, wait... That's right. He hasn't. He filed for an extension on the filing date. That's almost as funny as signing your three year old up for an NRA membership.

    April 13, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  20. NoKidding

    Blah Blah Blah... the retards tell us they need to get Obama out because THEY know how to run the country. No matter how much wool they pull over people's eyes, some people are not as DUMB as they thought. IN THE LAST 50 YEARS OR SO, NOT ONE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT – NOT ONE – HAS BALANCED THE BUDGET. All that crap about how they are conservatives who know how to reign in spending blah blah blah... history speaks for itself. Just a look at 8 years of GW Bush and his cronies, AND WE KNOW WE DON'T WANT MORE OF THAT CRAP.

    April 14, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @PATRIOTIC TAXPAYER: "I'm proud to SUPPORT my country, even when supporting it means my money might be spent on something I'd rather it not spend it on – BECAUSE I AM COGNIZANT THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MEMBER OF A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC."

    Hear, hear! Thank you for your post – I couldn't agree more!

    April 14, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  22. ThinkAgain

    @Cheryl Jeffries: "And, to keep a fair, flat tax from being implemented."

    If you think flat taxes are fair, you belong in the moon colony with Cap'n Gingrinch.

    April 14, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  23. Thomas

    @ReallY!!?
    Oh and Thanks to Obama and the Dems spendathon, the next generation will inherit a worse country than the previous. The first time evey in the history of this country. All be b/c this generation along with the Dems care more about handouts than what is in the best interest of this country. Way to go liberals!!! U did it!! we are finally like Europe!!! Pat urselves on the back. U finally turned this country into everything your ancestors worked so hard to get away from!!
    Good job!!!

    You need to thank G W Bush for two bankrupting wars. We wouldn't be in this mess if we thought with our brain instead of our middle leg.
    Yes we are much like Europe, we want an Aristocracy , King Romney of Latter Day Bush.
    You can't have Liberty and Freedom unless you have justice for all ! That's not European Socialism, that was the printable that America was created. And why we fought the crown !

    April 14, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Imagine you're a bank and someone comes in for a loan, telling the bank that if they get the loan, they'll create jobs with it. The you loan the money, but instead of creating jobs here in the US (which you assumed would happen, given that the borrower kept yammering on about how patriotic they were), the borrower creates the jobs in China and India.

    The borrower comes back and tells you they need more money, so they can create more jobs. You're somewhat skeptical, but you loan them more money. Again, the jobs are created in China and India (and other third-world countries), but not here in the U.S.

    American citizens are the bank and the borrower is the wealthy who keep insisting that we have to continue giving them tax breaks, otherwise, they won't "create jobs."

    Anybody else tired of throwing good money after bad? LET THE BUSH TAX CUTS EXPIRE!

    April 14, 2012 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  25. Obama 2012

    Mitt Romney is wearing his magic holy Mormon underpants. It protects him from higher taxes and real working class labor. Will it work? Depends!

    April 14, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
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