Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released
April 13th, 2012
08:27 AM ET
2 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. George

    Keep whistling Dixie if you think the King of the Back Room Deals is going to come clean about his tax returns. Real simple, too much money in his off-shore accounts. THE BRAIN WHO NEVER LEFT BAIN and who still wants to bring the BAIN model to the Oval Office.

    April 13, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Fair is Fair - You (Rudy) can really be exasperating when you just fabricate stuff to suit your talking point, with absolutely NO FACT to back it up.
    ==================================================================================================
    Now Fair, take it easy on poor Rudy. He claims to own his own business and have employees. He must be very overworked and getting confused. But he is most definitely in the MANUFACTRURING BS business for sure!!! BWAHAHAHA!!!

    April 13, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Stumped

    I make less than Obama but paid more in taxes...Obama needs to pay the 30% not the effective rate of 20.5%. This isn't a do as I say, but not what I do position. I'm a business owner and work 16 hours per day every day. I haven't had a vacation in 10 years since I'm taxed to death. I don't get a pension, Social Security and Medicare will be obsolete by the time I actually get to retire and I'm suppose to feel for the 99%. Screw you.

    April 13, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    The last partal year I worked I made about $67,000 and paid 28%. Glad to have made the rest for my own bills, savings, etc.

    April 13, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Oliver

    Stumped, if you made less then Obama, then you re the 99%. So really, you are screwing yourself. Maybe if the 1% paid as much as you did, you wouldn't be so angry.

    April 13, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Howdy

    Oliver(excellent post)

    The right will complain, but there are 50% of Americans who pay no income taxes at all. After all, Faux News told them that was the case. Lets ignore the fact that those people still pay payroll taxes, social security and medicare. Then you look at the numbers...

    Raising the tax rate on millionaires alone to 30% (which by the way is about what I end up paying making 50k a year), would generate 1.4 trillion dollars in revenue.

    If you took all of those 50% who don't pay income tax, and liquidated every possession and piece of capital they have, every single dime to their name that would generate 700 billon in revenue, about half of what it would if the rich simply paid their fair share.

    It boggles the mind that this is even an issue. If you are part of the 99% advocating for the "job creators", you should start advocating for yourself instead. There is no justification for you paying more in taxes then they do. The Romney's of the world don't need car elevators, the middle class needs food, jobs and sound education for their children.

    April 13, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. mat

    Attention all Democrats. We need you to carry the party line. Do not seek clarification on our comments or actions, in fact do not regard them at all or even attempt to hold us responsible for them. Vote for us or you will loose your gov handouts.

    April 13, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Rudy retorts:

    "POP! Solyndra was a grant. They were never expected to pay it back. "
    ---------
    This is getting ridiculous. Rudy, you're really making a fool out of yourself.

    The $500 Million Solyndra fiasco was a LOAN GUARANTEE. Which means the US Taxpayer served as a co-signer to the loan. Which means when they went belly up, the US taxpayer was on the hook.

    You're just unbelievable.

    April 13, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Fair is Fair – You (Rudy) can really be exasperating when you just fabricate stuff to suit your talking point, with absolutely NO FACT to back it up.
    ==================================================================================================
    Now Fair, take it easy on poor Rudy. He claims to own his own business and have employees. He must be very overworked and getting confused. But he is most definitely in the MANUFACTRURING BS business for sure!!! BWAHAHAHA!!!
    --------------------
    You two are too funny.
    The former is short on facts, while the latter creates facts.
    Solyndra was a grant, Fair. The question is still stupid, Truth.

    But, I will give you both more credibility than Taran, who had zero and is running up debt.

    April 13, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. REG in AZ

    The Republican way is to give more to "the money" and to depend on them to responsibly and effectively benefit the economy and create jobs. Bush-Cheney proved beyond any doubt that doesn't work; with all of their placating and patronizing of the very wealthy all they did was clearly demonstrate that the "trickle down" theory is a complete fraud that only makes the wealthy wealthier and solicits political support. Now the Republican / Tea Party is trying to sell a return to "more of the same" and expect the people to buy it. Are we really that naive that they can count on us being "pawns" in their game of politics?

    April 13, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. Herb

    Except for venture capital investing, where the subject company gets that capital, all other capital investment transactions involve moving money from person A to person B. Both persons are basing their side of the transaction on their financial judgement. So, how is that different from gambling? Except for venture capital investing, why is there a tax break for this kind of gambling?

    April 13, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. godoflunaticscreation

    "As a result of all the tax bills from 78'-90' the net worth of forbes 400 tripled. About $70 billion a year was lost in govt revenue so that in those thirteen years the wealthiest 1 percent of the country gained a trillion dollars.Not only that but more and more was deducted from the salary checks of the middle class and poor. By the early 90's a middle income family earning $37,800 a year paid 7.65% of its income in social security taxes while a family earning ten times as much, $378,000 paid 1.46% of its income in social security taxes."
    "By the end of the Reagan yeaqrs the gap between rich and poor in the US had grown dramatically. Where in 1980, CEO's of corporations made forty times as much in salary as the average worker, by 1989 they were making ninety three times as much. Between 77'-89' the before tax income of the richest 1 percent rose 77%, meanwhile for the poorest 2/5 of the population there was no gain but a decline."
    "Because the favorable changes for the rich in tax structure the richest 1 percent in the decade ending in 190 saw their after tax income increase 87% In that same period the after tax income of the lower 4/5 of the population either went down 5% or went up to no more than 8.6%."

    April 13, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  13. godoflunaticscreation

    Correction "...decade ending in 1990..."

    April 13, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. The Real Truth and Nothing But the The Real Truth

    Rudy NYC - POP! Solyndra was a grant. They were never expected to pay it back.
    ===================================================================
    OMG Rudy... You're only digging yourself deeper! They were LOAN GUARANTEES. So the government got hung with the loans when the taxpayers were ILLEGALLY subordinated to Obama rich campaign contributor. Rough day there old boy. Too much koolaide....

    April 13, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. anagram_kid

    The Real Truth and Nothing But The Real Truth Obama wrote – show us the birth certificate!!!
    At one time I actually thought this was a real poster. Between this and the post about how women belong in the kitchen, I am starting to think there are at least three people posting under this name and they are just trying to make the right wingers look dim. Don’t any of you have better things to do with your time?

    April 13, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Simple Question

    Here's a simple, easy question....what is stopping Obama from cutting another check to the Treasury to voluntarily pay more in taxes? As I see it, he's about $75k short on his tax "fairness" liability. What's stopping him from sending that money in today? I mean, he thinks it's for the best for everyone else, why not him? Oh, and way to go VP Foot-in-Mouth – less than 2% of your income to charity? Pathetic. And, isn't he short on his tax liability as well? 30% of $379k is around $113k, not $87,900. Where's his check for the missing $25k?

    April 13, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. vivalakelsey

    no matter how ya swing it, Obama paid more taxes than Mitt. Under Obama's rule, Obama will pay even more taxes. Under Mitts rule, Mitt will pay less. OBAMA 2012

    April 13, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. No Difference

    Did Biden make it to 1% charitable contributions this time? Last tax return he was at less than 1%. I'd imagine he wouldn't want to suffer that same embarrassment again.

    April 13, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Truth, Fair, and Four: seriously, who pays you to post your delusional drivel? Thanks for the laughs, though. :)

    April 13, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. David in Houston

    @ Michael B.

    "Are you all incapable of understanding that his money in the Cayman Islands IS TAXED AS IF IT WERE IN THE US ANYWAY??? Who cares that he decided to put it there. If it was supposed to be some hidden assets I don't think we would know it is even there. We know it's there because it's NOT HIDDEN, and it's TAXED LIKE NORMAL."

    Offshore accounts are taxed like normal? How do you figure? Do you always make comments on subjects you know nothing about?

    If so, you & the GOP will get along just fine!

    April 13, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. ReallY!!?

    The back and forth on Solydra shows both parties to be stupid. Solydra was given stimulus money as a loan. What neither of u seem to realize is Solydra's LOAN GUARANTEE was modified so that the head investor George Kaiser would be 1st in line to collect not the taxpayers if Solyndra went belly up as it did. Most LOAN GURANTEE to businesses the Obama admin picks as winners normally puts taxpapyer in the front during bankruptcy and the resulting liquidation. But not for George Kaiser, one Obama's top bundler during his 2008 campaign. Mr. Kaiser got paid fr the frontend and the backend. That is the realy problem with this Obama Admin. Corruption!!! So how do u like that kind of HOPE & CHANGE?!

    April 13, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    @madwoman. Michelle Obama was a working mom. You can't compare what they have had in the last three yearsnwith what that romney wife hss had all her life!
    She IS LESS thsn a real hard working woman sith less money. A lot of moms who stay home to raise their kids do without to raise their children. I doubt this super millionaire wife has ever even denied anything that money can buy.
    You are not even comparing apples and oranges. Her health problems? I bet she didn't have to worry about health insurance or,losing that mommy job of hers or a real job which she had never held.
    Not all stay at home mothers do a good job of raising their kids either.

    April 13, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. ReallY!!?

    This whole demonizing of the rich is so riduclous! Romney was never given anything. He donated his entire inheritance to charity and started fr scratch. To make them to be the evil rich is riduculous. Instead of addressing the real problems of poverty and teach people to be reliant on themselves, this admin just want to keep giving handouts. Oh the poor waitress that has to workt o feed her 2 kids. The Repubs want to take away her childcare freebie. Really? I worked hard to put myself thru college. I waited to have kids until I was married. And guess what I'm not poor!! What a freaking shocker!!! Why is that so hard to understand?

    Stop having kids at 16yrs. Get a freaking education or skill to take care of yourself and any kids that come along. Why is it the govt responsbility to take care of you????

    April 13, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Edward

    Obama is in support of making those that earn over a million annually pay 30% in taxes. As you can see he did not earn a million dollars so he is not being hypocritical

    April 13, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. anagram_kid

    To Simple Question, Here is a simple answer the $75K would not matter and the IRS is not set up to accept ‘donations’. Part of the change in the tax code is for budgeting purposes. When you create a monthly budget, assuming you are intelligent enough to do so, do you include donations you may get from strangers?

    April 13, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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