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. Al

    I think that Obama's Secretary paid more in taxes than the Obamas did. And I sure that Obama didn't claim all the benefits that the office gets, free private plane rides at the tax payers expense, free car ride at the tax payers expense. Wait, is that not what he stands against, but it's perfectly acceptable when he does gets it and does not claim it. The real life of a Democrat that wants others to pay but not when it comes to his pocket, typical.

    April 13, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    Bill, the President's salary is a set amount. The pay rate was doubled during the previous administration occupying the WH. All of President & Mrs. Obama's other income is THEIR income, and what they earned is of no concern to you. If you have a problem with his salary as CINC, then perhaps you should petition the next rethug president (lol – that'll be a long time from now) to cut his and congress' salaries.

    April 13, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. James

    Only $800,000? I doubt Obama is telling the truth on how much he is getting paid. I want to see the paycheck

    April 13, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Ok, so Obama is a millionaire. WHY is he taking a salary as Presdient and not returning it? Romney did this while he was governor of Mass. What personal living expenses are NOT being paid by the taxpayers? Heck, Obama is even having the taxpayers pay for all of his campaign trips! Isn't that enough?!!

    April 13, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    skellyute wrote:

    I love how some how the media has made people believe you're more of an American if you give a great percentage of your income to the government that mismanages it. To think our founders, and revolutionaries fought the King because we got sick of his taxes.
    ---------------
    You forget that "our founders and revolutionaries" first came to this country to escape the religous intolerance. You fail to recognize that the "taxes" were collected by plutocrats and imperial capitalists for the King. Imperial capitalism is what the founders wanted to escape, and is also exactly the type of society that conservatives are pushing us towards.

    April 13, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. You's a Sucka

    Romney looks like a crazy greedy looney tune in this pic - are we supposed to actually believe a mega millionaire who stores his money in the Cayman Islands so he doesn't have to pay taxes to America really has the middle class in mind????......Romney will put the final nail in the coffin of America

    April 13, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth wrote:

    Ok, so Obama is a millionaire. WHY is he taking a salary as Presdient and not returning it? Romney did this while he was governor of Mass.
    ---------------
    Because he wanted to keep earned income at zero in order to escape the AMT. It is euphemistically known as philanthropy.

    April 13, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. Thomas

    Class and Race , two issues that are taboo !

    Mitt Romney : Latter Day Bush ".

    April 13, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Lizzie

    Rudy NYC, so you're voting for everyone else then the democrats.
    Judy, you show your bias, Romney has paid ALL taxes required by law, offshore and onshore and so did the President.
    Wake up people, Romney donated ALL the money he inherited, did President Obama?

    April 13, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. The REAL Truth.. (not the imposter)

    @PotD – "I am sure Mitt Romney is paying what is required by the law, and I am sure Obama is not paying a penny more than required either."
    --------------------–
    Absolutely.. .and neither am I or you, or anyone else, at least not deliberately. As I posted earlier.. it's not about the $$ amount paid, or the rate (per se) it's the fairness and equity of the taxation. It's is SKEWED in favor of the wealthy. Cap Gains – which taxes investment earnings – is a lower rate than ordinary income, ostensibly to create investments and jobs (by the wealthy). Since it's mostly the 1% that benefit from it, how is that fair? It's not class warfare as the right like to call it. Its not jealousy. It's not anything other than paying a FAIR share of the burden. Why is long-term CG not taxed at the ordinary income rate ?????

    Wake up people.. the 1% DO NOT USE THEIR OWN $$ TO CREATE JOBS!! They borrow it from banks, so their wealth is shielded!!

    April 13, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Al

    I think that Obama's Secretary paid more in taxes than the Obamas did. And I sure that Obama didn't claim all the benefits that the office gets, free private plane rides at the tax payers expense, free car ride at the tax payers expense. Wait, is that not what he stands against, but it's perfectly acceptable when he does gets it and does not claim it. The real life of a Democrat that wants others to pay but not when it comes to his pocket, typical.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So the next time a rethug is president (lol – that'll be a long time from now) are you going to hold them to the same standards? Do you think the boy king paid out of pocket for any of the countless rides on AF1 down to his ranch in texass? The rethugs accuse dems of being "jealous" but they're sure quick to admonish anyone who ISN'T one of them and who is successful.

    April 13, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    James

    Only $800,000? I doubt Obama is telling the truth on how much he is getting paid. I want to see the paycheck

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    His pre-tax paycheck is $400k, just like the last guy's. You can look it up if you would like.

    April 13, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Scott

    Trickle-down economics has had 3 decades to prove itself and has not done so. The Republican mantra that corporate or wealthy tax breaks lead to job creation is a myth. As a matter of fact the loss of revenue to state and federal agencies typically results in layoffs and loss of jobs. Exactly how many jobs has Romney created with the tax preferred status of his capital gains? I'm talking net jobs here: jobs created minus jobs eliminated through layoffs.

    April 13, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Blindersoff

    James, lets get a gander at your paycheck. I thought not (?)

    April 13, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. David S

    Not sure if anybody mentioned it, because I don't feel like trolling the whole thread ... but Romney's income was from investments. The marginal tax rate on investment income is only 15%. Do YOU pay more than you are required to pay??

    April 13, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. AE

    Silver Spoon, that's OK but don't whine when you are called out. Hilary Rosen was SPOT ON!! Look raising children is never easy, rich or poor, and that should be respected,BUT Really folks, If I had a gardener/driver/shopper/no food budget/cooks/cleaners and numerous Cadillac's, it would be so much EASIER!!!! I am not sure about this but the women probable never was truly in the work force, where you can be fired for being late because of a sick kid, or after 10 hrs, you have to come home & cook dinner & shuttle kids to soccer games....Different World for these folks and all you wing-nuts know this is the truth.

    April 13, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. WTFNext

    So last year he made a million more than this year?!? Seems a little odd, a 50+% cut... Haven't looked at either return completely though...

    April 13, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. J

    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."

    This is the most intelligent post I have seen on this subject. Everyone should pay attention to what it says. Thank you justaminit for telling it like it is!

    April 13, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Malory Archer

    Cheryl Jefferies

    So what if Obama and Biden released their tax returns. I'm more interested in MY OWN RETURN...and, how much I had to pay. And, how much more I'm paying come Jan. 1 if Obama is re-elected. And, how much more I"ll pay if he's in for 4 more years.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If you continue to earn the same $$$ your tax rate will stay the same or possibly go a bit lower with President Obama. romney becomes president, your taxes will be much higher as punishment for not being born wealthy.

    April 13, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. John/kc

    You all are getting off the subject. Romney made millions of dollars a year and pays 1/2 the percentage in taxes as someone making$50,000 a year. If I made fourteen million dollars a year, I would be happy to pony up half of it in taxes, wouldn't you! If not, you are a greedy pig. How much money do you really need to live comfortably?

    April 13, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. rs

    Real Truth- Really? Like Reagan and Bush didn't fall into the millionaires class either and fully benefited from the job? If you would just listen to yourself once in awhile, you'd realize just how foolish you sound. Noise, with no facts or thought.

    April 13, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    Seems as if Mitt Romney lined his pockets quite well this past decade of economic confusion. I doubt we'll ever know exactly where (or what) he's invested - either here or overseas. I don't begrudge him his wealth. I do begrudge him his unwillingness to be forthright concerning that wealth. He is, after all, asking for my vote of confidence...

    April 13, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. Joseph

    I would like to see Romney's previous 10 years worth of tax returns.

    April 13, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  24. Bruce

    Skelly – Study history. IT wasn't the taxes. IT was taxation WITHOUT representation. That is something completely different. We also tried to get away from Monarchys, but the rich in this country are the new kings and queens. They rule with their money and influence.

    April 13, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Jules

    Mittens is scraed. He knows once he is forced to release his "I'm unemployed" tax return and it shows profits of fifty million a year and hiding 100 million more in offshore accounts, he's done.

    The Romney's are clueless about middle class Americans. Both born with silver spoons, both continue to live with silver spoons and their sons, all five of them have trust funds of 250 million each. No military service by any of those five sons. Chicken hawks don't bleed for this country, they send your kids.

    Nannies, maids, housekeepers, au pairs, grounds keepers, 5 multimillion dollar homes, elevators for luxury vehicles, polo playing, tax evading, wealth inherited Romney's. Ann Romney "I don't consider myself wealthy", should try raising 5 kids as a single parent who also had MS and other health issues but HAD TO WORK because they didn't have 750 million inherited dollars so they could choose to stay home.

    What a joke for a potential presidential candidate. R-Money "Corporations are people".

    April 13, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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