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. GonzoinHouston

    Don't forget: under the Ryan budget, the capital gains tax will be phased out altogether. This is about the only tax Mitt pays. Under Obama's budget, Mitt's income, $30-50 million, will be taxed at the 30% level. Under the Ryan budget, Mitt's tax liability will be ZERO. Which one do you prefer, and which one do you think Mitt prefers?

    April 13, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Dave

    Yo Bishop Romney, Why you be against keepin that oil from the Keystone in this Country?? ILL tell you why, Caus your Tabby Naclke ass is bought & paid for by big oil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 13, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. Dave

    Heres my last question, Was I readin the wron Social studies books in Grade school. How in the world did your Father, George Romney run for Prez, when he was born in Mexico. I dont get it. Peace out!

    April 13, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. yolanda

    Wow, maybe some of the people commenting here should get off their backsides and earn a living, instead of resenting anyone who doesn't want to support them.

    April 13, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. Eri

    I'm really starting to believe Romney has somethibg to hide. Otherwise, why won't he just release his tax returns for the past decade and get it over with?

    April 13, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. Blindersoff

    Be patient, Mitt Romney is still trying to remember where he hid his tax returns from the past 10 years, after that, he will need to make some major adjustments. They will be ready after the November election. Just be patient.

    April 13, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. JustMe

    He'll release them when tbey're filed? Okay so then release them. Surely they have been filed. They're due Sunday.

    April 13, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. rosaadriana

    The point is not how much Mittens paid in taxes, the point is that he wants to pay even less while gutting education, research, and the safety net for the elderly etc. He is not a job creator unless you count his maids and nannies.

    April 13, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. WalkerTR

    Pres. 1% Obama isn't exactly hurting I see. Looks like he paid 26% which is still a lower percent than I, Joe Average, pay. Guess he must be evil too then? Oh wait – damn! That can't be. It's not Mitt that you're mad at. He's paying what the tax code says he owes. I assure you that Obama didn't pay a dime more than was due either.

    April 13, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. Stoney

    You think for one minute Obama and Biden are middle class? They talk one way and walk the opposite. True left wingers.

    April 13, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Babyboomer

    This is exactly what Hillary Rosen was talking about. This kind of money is what allows the Ann Romney's of the world to stay at home with their children (and all the help needed to raise them.) We need a President who knows what it's like to have to pay off student loans, a First Lady who has been out in the work force while raising her children. We need someone who get's what the majority in this country face everyday. Not some guy who wants to be President for the status of it all. I sincerely hope the majority of Americans understand what's at stake in November and get out there and VOTE. Obama/Biden 2012...

    April 13, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. MNTaxpayeros

    I wonder what time H&R Block opens in Michigan?

    April 13, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. MNTaxpayeros

    More campaign silliness. Sigh.

    April 13, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    Not surprised the severely conservative flip flopper is hiding something, afterall he is a member of the Wall Street/Bank establishment top one percent of wealthiest Americans.

    April 13, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. deb0155

    Wow – Such jealousy we all have! Maybe instead of going others who have "made it" – we all should strive as hard as they did to "make it." Anger is not the way to go – using your brain is!

    April 13, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Empty rhetoric from the Romney cult. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    April 13, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. Wake up people

    Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Yesterday it was all smoke and mirrors to divert attention away from the anniversary of Romneycare. Now it's back to business Mittens. As for President Obama's economic record, it's better than your boy Bush's and it could be even better if not for your party's obstruction and their main goal to make President Obama a one term POTUS. Are the American people really dumb enough to fall for their BS?

    OBAMA 2012!

    April 13, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. LH

    I am not a Republican, however, why would Romney pay more than what's required by law? I wouldn't. My tax bill is ridiculous and I make under $100,000 a year. Middle class folks like myself should have the lower of the tax rates, not millionaires that don't need it!

    April 13, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. Is Mitt a Git?

    Romney looks very angry in this photo–and he's got a mean temper. Not presidential at all. Americans please take note, he likely has a worse temper than John McCain. Don't elect this false prophet/plutocrat or the whole country will be sorry.

    April 13, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  20. Rsprings

    All this shows any way is that while Obama and Biden were in government not doing much, Romney was out in the real world making himself wealthy. It's called initiative. Also, I don't know why they are so focused on his wealth many in Congress both republicans and Democrats are very wealthy.

    April 13, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  21. Taran

    I see jealousy is still rampant. I don't blame anybody for wanting to keep as much of what they earn as they can. I'm the same way, I work hard for what I get, I'm going to keep as much as I can.

    April 13, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. Killdeer

    Hey, it's hard for the Mittens. Ya know when you've got so many offshore accounts and having to use all the loopholes in the tax code to avoid taxes (read 1%) that the rest us of don't have...it's really hard. Don't expect him to release anything any time soon.

    April 13, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. SUBS 4 VOTES

    Don't ever show a picture of Willard with the POTUS flag over his shoulder. He is not the President and will never be President.

    April 13, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. jackstraw

    GIJoe...ammended???ammended for what????? Look I won't demonize someone for being successful...but what the heck is this guy hiding...also...I would like information related to his cayman island accounts. Finally...how is this guy in any possible way...creating jobs..other than the garnders and house staff that is hired?

    April 13, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. Jules

    R-Money needs to let the American people know how much of a patriot he is by hiding millions of taxable income that he's earned off the backs of hard working Americans, in other countries.

    April 13, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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