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. dnick47

    @ GI JOE

    You mean he's doctoring so it won't look as bad as it is... hiding all that money in the Caymen Islands away from the IRS so he can enjoy the fruits of t=his thiervy and his kids can as well while hundreds of thousands American workers are forced to live with3rd World wages due to his "Investment Banking" skullduggery where good paying were lost and minimum wage onse created so the Romney's and their corporate clients could get rich.

    April 13, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. Tyrone

    Ok , look the media is giving this guy a total free pass. Can a brother chill wit da Censorship?

    April 13, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. rapierpoint

    Palladin – typical. Could you all please figure out just who you all are attacking? Is it billionaires, millionaires, people making 200K, couples making 250K, the rich, the filthy rich, the well-to-do? You all are all over the board when it comes to who you all are complaining aren't paying enough.

    April 13, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Tyrone

    fine 1 more , It is the absolute truth that Bishop dirtbag Romney is taking away votes from minorities & the Elderly & hispanicss & even the DISABLED. YaLL dont think he is a dirtbag by doin this?????

    April 13, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. obama victim

    I hope Mitt made a lot of money....woudn't we want a successful businessman running things?? the whole community organizer thing just didn't work out

    April 13, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    I have to ask yet again – what is Mitt hiding? Is he invested in countries or organizations that support terrorism. Is he afraid to show how much he gave to defeat gay marriage across this country? He released all of the information when he was being considered as a potential VP for McCain. He gave this information to McCain but won't give it to the American people. Is anyone else wondering what it is in those returns that he wants to keep from us?

    April 13, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Dave

    Romney has already released his tax returns over the past few years. Should Obama release his school transcripts then?

    April 13, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. Dave

    Truth001: Romney paid about 35% on his income while at Bain. Now, he is paying about 15% on his investments from his initial income. Should he pay 75%, 80%? What is really fair?

    April 13, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Gt

    Please explain why Mr. romneys wealth is an issue? Why attack the mans success?

    April 13, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. Dave

    Obama is the 1%. His wife and kids get to travel the world on our dime (or should I say, $4 trillion over the past 3 1/2 years).

    April 13, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  11. Blindersoff

    Mad Woman, you really are Mad . . . Mad I tell ya, Mad! It was Mrs, never worked a day in her life Romney, choice, like every other female who chooses to open herself up for business to manufacture kids. It is not a job but a responsibility to care for what is yours. Period.

    April 13, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. GI Joe

    He'll release them as soon as his accountants are finished modifying them (to look like he's a saint).

    April 13, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. Cole

    So now its between the entreprenaur and the president, I really dont know who to choose.
    I would vote for Romney because hes an entreprenaur that knows how to deal with money (which means he could possibly fix our economy like Bill clinton)
    Or I would vote for Obama because hes trying to do things its just the republicans wont let him!!! ( do anything)

    (also I am neither republican nor democrat)

    April 13, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. Bingham

    Class warfare and envy from Democrats. Wow. Thats something new.....

    April 13, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. chico suave

    Does anyone really get it? Even if they tax all rich Americans every penny they have, it still wouldn't equal the amount of money generated if each department of the gov't was cut by a mere 1%.

    April 13, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Peace

    What I don't understand is, what was Romney preparing himself for the last 5 years or so if not one of the stuff is to get his tax returns ready (showing not only one year)? He can't rush saying I will be the nominee, without showing what the nominee is required to have (Tax Returns).

    April 13, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Ger real

    It seems america wants to go the wellfare state route. Tax planning has any one heard off. If someone earns income from tax free avenues and pays taxes as an honest citizen what's wrong. Is wealth bad if earned by honest means. Look at it differently – if a person can create wealth for himself maybe he can do it for you n me too by showing us the way. Being taught how to fish is better than being thrown one once in a while ...see what's happends to welfare economies worldover n you should worry about going the same path. Being rich is not a crime it never was never an issue in usa so why now?

    April 13, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. NickAnast

    Wow...the greedy and selfish are calling the less-fortunate jealous. What was it that Jesus said about a camel, a rich man, and the eye of a needle?

    April 13, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. justaminit

    Let me help with the math, President Obama paid 26% in income tax. Anyone who believes that Romney understands or cares about their financial problems is buying into a scam. He is a corporate warrior, who believes in keeping the money, some of which is in off-shore accounts. There is never enough money for these folks, no matter how much they have. He will never understand what it is like to walk in your shoes, struggle with bills, run out of money, or lose your job. Wake up middle class.

    April 13, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Well,
    I don't want any of Bill Gates money, I don't want any of Warren Buffet's money, I don't want any of Rush Linbaugh's money, I don't want any of Bill Oreilly's money I don't want any of Barrack Obama's money, I don't want any of Mitt Romney's money. but I will take all of Bernie Madoff's money I can get !!

    April 13, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. Tyrone

    Yall keep presuring Bishop Romney on his Secret off-shore acconts, he might get mad & take it out on his puppy, RUN, PUPPY, RUN!!!!!!!!1

    April 13, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  22. gg

    how much money did romney and company get from the tax payers of america while he was stealing other peoples pension, and stashing the money in off-shore banking

    April 13, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. SciGuy

    Anyone who's paid over $6M in taxes has more than done their part. Anyone demanding more from them is an envious, greedy, thieving whiner.

    April 13, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. rs

    Yes, Mr. Romney, how many of your millions of dollars are stashed off-shore? You've pandered to the birthers on Mr. Obama's birth certificate, how about letting the rest of know just how little you pay in taxes, and how much of your persoonal wealth you deny supporting America with?

    April 13, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. cigarman

    I sure hope that they don`t raise the tax rate to thirty percent for people making one million dollars or more. I will have to quit my part time job at Walmart.

    April 13, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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