August 16th, 2012
01:18 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney says he paid at least 13% in taxes for last ten years

Greer, South Carolina (CNN) – Mitt Romney has paid no less than 13% in personal income taxes over the past ten years, he said Thursday.

The presumptive GOP nominee has faced withering criticism from Democrats over the release of his tax returns, including a charge by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that Romney had paid no taxes for a ten year period. Reid did not specify if those were the last ten years, or an earlier period.

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Romney expressed frustration with Reid's attack at a press conference with reporters in South Carolina.

"I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past ten years I never paid less than 13%. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. I paid taxes every single year," Romney said, explaining he had gone back to check his records after being asked by a reporter about the tax rates he had paid. "Harry Reid's charge is totally false. I am sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him – I don't believe it for a minute by the way – but every year I paid at least 13% and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why, the number gets well above 20%."

Reid had told reporters an anonymous source gave him a tip. A source close to Reid later said that Reid got the information from an investor with Bain, the private equity firm Romney ran.

A spokesman for Reid, Adam Jentleson, said in a statement Thursday after Romney's press conference, "We'll believe it when we see it. Until Mitt Romney releases his tax returns, Americans will continue to wonder what he's hiding. Romney seems to think he plays by a different set of rules than every other presidential candidate for the last thirty years, all of whom lived up to the standard of transparency set by Mitt Romney's father and released their tax returns."

Romney has released his 2010 tax returns and an estimate of his 2011 tax returns when he filed for an extension, but has declined to make available any earlier returns.

On Thursday he called insistent questions over his tax documents "small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face" such as unemployment and the nuclear threat from Iran.

President Barack Obama's campaign quickly dismissed Romney's tax revelation in a statement.

"Mitt Romney today said that he did indeed 'go back and look' at his tax returns and that he never paid less than 13% in taxes in any year over the past decade. Since there is substantial reason to doubt his claims, we have a simple message for him: prove it," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith wrote. "Even though he's invested millions in foreign tax havens, offshore shell corporations, and a Swiss bank account, he's still asking the American people to trust him. However, given Mitt Romney's secrecy about his returns, coupled with the revelations in just the one return we have seen to date and the inconsistencies between this one return and his other financial disclosures, he has forfeited the right to have us take him just at his word."

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Taxes
soundoff (1,476 Responses)
  1. BrightStar

    That seals the deal – will never vote for this guy.

    August 16, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. hurricane

    And his maid paid a tax rate of 20% while trying to feed her 4 kids on a paycheck the size the tab Romney runs up on new socks.

    August 16, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Adventure49

    Is this a meaningful statement without knowing what adjustments were made to his income to get to his adjusted gross income? If he followed a tax avoidance strategy like what Marriott did he could have generated capital losses to eliminate all or most of his income.

    August 16, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. steve

    I am not a crook.

    August 16, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    Tax cuts for the wealthy - tax cuts for the job creators - don't tax unearned income. We can pay for it. Trust us.
    Romney thinks just because we're middle class or poor that we're stupid.

    Sheeeeesh.

    August 16, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    OMG NO!!!! He made $20M and only got to keep $17.4M!!!! Highway robbery!!!! Travesty!!!! Atrocity!!!! The gov't is oppressing him right into the stone age!!!! How is a man supposed to live and pay the bills and make investments in the economy and be a good consumer contributing to demand with only $17.4M PER YEAR?!?!?!?!? OH THE HORROR!!!!!

    Coward.

    August 16, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. gmenfan54

    That's great news Mitt. Let's see those tax returns....unedited.

    August 16, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. fryuujin

    that's good enough for me. if Romney says it's so then it has to be. Not like he has never told a lie or flip flopped.

    August 16, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Jonathan

    I didn't pay taxes for 14 years! Of course, it was the first 14 years of my life.

    August 16, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Brandon

    So let me get this straight.....A spokesman for Harry Reid:

    "We'll believe it when we see it. Until Mitt romney releases his tax returns, Americans will continue to wonder what he's hiding. Romney seems to think he plays by a different set of rules than every other presidential candidate for the last 30 years, all of whom lived up to the standard of transparency set by Mitt romney's father, and released their tax returns."

    Would that be the same standard of transparency that Obama avoided during his entire candidacy, and for the 3.5 years since, by not releasing his BIRTH CERTIFICATE? To me, Tax returns including income and other private information are much more private than a birth certificate. So how can a Dem blast a Repub for sidestepping Transparency Standards, in any fashion? Thats the political version of the pot calling the kettle Black.

    August 16, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. asm_ith

    In 2010, Romney's adjusted gross income was $21 million, from which he paid about some $3 million (14%) in taxes. That left him about $18 million to use for living expense, donations, investments, etc. If he had paid 35%, he would have had just under $14 million. I wonder how many fewer jobs he would have created because of this lower amount. If the answer is "none", then how can they keep justifying the argument about job creators?

    August 16, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Jonathan

    I don't know why everyone is getting so upset. He's paying what the government says he should pay. Who would ever pay more than they have to?!

    August 16, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. ValarMorghulis

    This guy gets dumber by the day. Does he really think revealing this information will endear him to the voters? Are we just supposed to take his word for it?

    August 16, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Alex

    John in Tx – your question: Why tax returns of Romney are important?

    It is very important because we are going through record deficit. This deficit started by the unnecessary war in Iraq we started and the tax cuts given d and the financial melt-down that happened during the bush years. At the end of Bill Clinton we were in surplus.

    Whether we like it or not we will have to increase TAXES and CUT SPENDING. All the calculations have shown that just by cutting the discretionary spending we cannot balance the budget – Increase in taxes has to be there.

    TAXES:
    Are Rich, middle class and poor taxed appropriately? Are Rich even paying their fair share of taxes? Warren Buffet ready is shown that rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. For example, Romney is paying only 13% in taxes. I make more than 100K but pay more than 13.5% of taxes. Romney wants to decrease taxes for rich. By showing his taxes for last 12 years, we will know the loop-holes used by rich and we can then close it. This will make it difficult to justify tax cuts for rich. If rich has tax cuts then somebody has to pay for it.

    John in TX how could Romney have $100M in IRA. I cannot contribute more than $2K per year?

    CUT SPENDING:
    We are talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid – If rich people has $100M in IRA- God know how the got it – they don't need Social Security? Privatization doesn't increase money – Actually it decreases the benefits paid as companies have to have profits. We all the time talk about Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid but we don't talk about defence expenses. Check out how much Medicare/Medicaid have increased due to returning injured war vets. Unless we reduce defence budget – we will be going into another war. We didn't go to wary in Syria and Libya due to great diplomacy of Obama.

    August 16, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. adgnyc

    I want to pay 13% in taxes too!

    August 16, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Keith

    First, I just can't believe what you say. Second, if you paid only 13%, why do you think you need another tax cut (at my expense).

    August 16, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. ghostriter

    Mr. Take My Word For It:

    What loopholes will you close? Dunno, just take my word for it that it will work.
    But won't those loopholes raise taxes on folks? Naw, take my word for it.
    How does your plan differ from Ryan's plans for the budget and specifically, Medicare? They just do. Take my word for it.
    What regulations would you get rid on from Wall St.? Ones that will not hurt banks. Take my word for it.
    What would you replace them with. Ones that work. Take my word for it.

    How many of you would purchase a car and just take the dealer's word that it's the greatest machine ever?

    August 16, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. Reality

    He can't release them because his accountants haven't finished creating the fake ones yet. The ones that don't show undervalued transfers to his $100 Million IRA, or his offshore accounts, or his tax schemes that aren't legit, or his income claimed as "carried interest" so he only pays 15% max on it.

    August 16, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. The REAL Truth...

    I'd like be paying that LITTLE in taxes for the last 10 yrs too Willard.
    I could care less about the total dollar amount paid over that time, but I sure do care about the percentage and equity!
    I'm not asking you to apologize for being wealthy, nor am I asking you to pay more than your fair share. But that's the real issue here.. fairness and transparency from a person who us attacking the POTUS on the very same thing he refuses to address ???.
    SO.....WHERE'S THE TAXES Mitt the Twit ???
    Show us what you're hiding. It's obvious that you have something to hide, even if it's how skewed toward the 1% the IRS rules are! I most certainly expect that the Twit/Lyan combination would behave exactly the same in office as they are during the campaign, which is why my vote is going elsewhere!

    August 16, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Jeff

    uh....got to love bipartisanship....one side didn't show their taxes, one didn't show their birth certificate. It's the IRS's business not ours. What happened to when it was taboo to ask for one's wealth?

    Can there not be an electoral board where they validate these things and put it to an end?

    August 16, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Alex

    To answer John in Tx question: Why tax returns of Romney are important?

    It is very important because we are going through record deficit. This deficit started by the unnecessary war in Iraq we started and the tax cuts given d and the financial melt-down that happened during the bush years. At the end of Bill Clinton we were in surplus.

    Whether we like it or not we will have to increase TAXES and CUT SPENDING to balance the budget. All the calculations have shown that just by cutting the discretionary spending we cannot balance the budget – Increase in taxes has to be there.

    TAXES:
    Are Rich, middle class and poor taxed appropriately? Are Rich even paying their fair share of taxes? Warren Buffet has ready shown that rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. For example, Romney is paying only 13% in taxes. I make about 150K but pay more than 13.5% of taxes. Romney wants to decrease taxes for rich. By showing his taxes for last 12 years, we will know the loop-holes used by rich and we can then close it. This will make it difficult to justify tax cuts for rich. If rich have tax cuts as advocated by Mr Romney then somebody has to pay for it. The tax bracket for Rich is 35% and they are not paying anywhere near due to the tax loopholes.

    John in TX how could Romney have $100M in IRA. I cannot contribute more than $2K per year?

    CUT SPENDING:
    We are talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid – If rich people has $100M in IRA- God know how the got it – they don't need Social Security? Privatization doesn't increase money – Actually it decreases the benefits paid as companies have to have profits. We all the time talk about Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid but we don't talk about defence expenses. Check out how much Medicare/Medicaid have increased due to returning injured war vets. Unless we reduce defence budget – we will be going into another war. We didn't go to war in Syria and Libya due to great diplomacy of Obama.

    August 16, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. NikoEsquire

    Well, there's just something WRONG with that. Over the past 5 years, I have paid an effective tax rate of 12 percent on a paltry income in the range of $58k to 65k. For someone to be making millions to only pay 1 percent more than I do, I understand why people are upset over the unfairness in out tax system. Romney, do yourself and the rest of the country a favor: show your tax returns...

    August 16, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. RobK

    People forget that a bunch of their income is taxed at 0%, 10%, 15%, and 25%. To get an average over 20%, you must be upper middle class and take the standard deduction. Or else you are donating to reduce the deficit. My average last year was 7% due to children, mortgage, and state taxes.

    August 16, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. maltytasker

    Romney has told us so many lies that I refuse to take him at his word. He can clear all of this up by simply showing us more of his returns in full. Until then, I still believe that he has something to hide that would make him unfit to be President in the eyes of voters.

    August 16, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Chump

    I paid 33% in taxes. And I own a small business that took a loss. What the HELL is MY accountant doing wrong. DAMN!

    August 16, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
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