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 (1,477 Responses)
  1. Bob in Ohio

    What is sad and amusing are those saying we should noti be interested in how or how much Mr. Romeny paid his taxes. As has been stated by many others, Mr. Romney is runnng for POTUS and once he releases his tax records, this whole issue can be put to rest. Until that happens, in my book, Mr. Romney most definitely gives the impression of someone with something to hide. And I am sorry, but I refuse to even consider voting for him.

    August 16, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. smallworld

    to libbie_sheep: if your understanding of most everything else is as faulty as your understanding of tax liability, you must be going through life in one serious fog-bank. Rest assured Romney was not paying double taxes on what he invested – any tax liability from his investment income would not include what he invested, only the profits. Return of principle, if in fact it were actually post tax, would not be subject to taxation, again. If ignorance is bliss, you must be one happy twit.

    August 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. Larry

    13% IN TEN YEARS. The phrase is probably meaning -less than 1% a year for 10 years- add the 10 years and you get 13%. In any event thats Romney math (Voodoo math) which he uses in his speeches.

    August 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Eric

    Paying 10% of your income to your church is not the same as taxes. Taxes go to things for all citizens. Mormon Charity goes to sending missionaries abroad and fighting Gay Marriage...

    August 16, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. sad4willis

    Why is a request for seeing Romney's income tax returns any different than the Republicans' insistence on seeing Obama's birth certificate? Or prove that he's a Christian? It seems to me that Harry Reid has taken the birther movement's playbook and subsituted "tax returns" for "birth certificate". What goes around, comes around, right?

    August 16, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Eric

    Paying 10% of your income to your church is not the same as taxes. Taxes go to things for all citizens. His Charity goes to sending missionaries abroad and fighting Gay Marriage...

    August 16, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Truth!seeker

    wake up, america, Romney is another hypcrit, most american work their asd off and cant make a mil in lifetime.

    August 16, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. Dude in Colorado

    Good boy, Mittens! Now tell about how much of the 87% you got to keep "trickled down" to create jobs?

    Oh yeah, that's right, you closed companies and outsourced jobs.

    August 16, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. Brandon

    I fail to see how anyone's charitable contributions factors in here, at all. You want to give money to charity, by all means do so. But we're currently reaping what we sow with regard to avoiding paying taxes. The more avoidance that occurs, the more our coutnry struggles. Without a functioning government, who really CARES how much you give to charity?

    Everyone wants to talk about legally utilizing the loopholes provided by congress, and how everyone does it. And that's very true. BUT.....on my $55k annual salary...finding 5% in dedcuctions amounts to $2,750. If I had made $20mil....that 5% amounts to $1,000,000. Which one is ultimately more harmful to the deficit and our governmental budget?

    You could make the argument that for every one of him, there are thousands of me....which ultimately brings those numbers closer in line when you're factoring a whole group. But at the end of the day...these multi-millionaires avoiding taxes, along with all the other things they do like sending jobs overseas, hiding money overseas and so on.....harms our nation much more than me writing off a few thousand dollars a year in Gas Expenses.

    August 16, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. ohgran

    The proof is in the showing of the returns. But then that just might show that he also has money in foreign banks, that he was drawing a salary from Bain beyond 1999, etc. SHOW US THE RETURNS!

    August 16, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Real deal

    Even if Mitt the Twit is being truthful, why would it be okay for this weasel of a man to pay only 13% in taxes when most Americans pay far more. I'm sure we'd all love to pay lower taxes but we do our part as American's and pay what is asked of us. This man running for president instead of doing his part finds ways to work the system and pay less in taxes. That to me is un-American.

    August 16, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    @ Cap Gain Changes Do Matter

    I think you're confusing the percentages I stated with the returns on the particular investments as opposed to what I was talkig about, which was that they've already chosen their investments based on risk and reward, gotten the best amount of income out of it that they can, and are simply paying a higher capital gains tax on said income.

    As for non-rich first-time entrepreneurship, nobody said there shouldn't be tax relief or incentives in the system. The point is that the system should provide tax relief and incentives where actually necessary. $40B subsidies to oil companies reporting record profits during a global recession and reducing capital gains taxes to zero for people who already have hundreds of millions of dollars...those don't qualify as necessary...not even remotely. It's common sense as opposed to the ideology that the richer we make them all, the more will magically trickle down. It doesn't and that's thanks to deregeulation of the financial industy and proliferation of investment vehicles that serve solely as gambling games and tax shelters for the wealthy and don't really help drive the economy.

    August 16, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Facts R Facts

    Romney is white so I'll take him at his word. Obama is black and has a funny name so I want to see his birth certificate.

    August 16, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Spuck

    When Romney does release hia entire tax record it will make the Dems. look pretty bad. Ever stop to think he is waiting for the opportune time to do just that?

    August 16, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Joan

    Woh this guy think he is really smart. He think he can pull the wool over peoples' eyes. It very, very simple if you have nothing to hide just simple release the 10 years of taxes. Only that will do no more talking points people are not stupid. Finally the
    media is very easy on Ronney he is getting away with a lot of things. They are not holding him up to a higher standard. Obama and even Hillary was pressed much more. Rommey is definately not ready to be a President and leader of the free world. Neither is Paul Ryan. Paul may have a bit more smarts but he is aloof and goofy.

    August 16, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. TAK

    Until I see, with my own eyes, his birth certificate ... er I mean tax returns from the last ten years, I am not going to believe Mitt or Ann Romney or their claims. Conservative made Obama prove his assertion of citzenship, now the shoe is on the other foot. Common Mitt, prove it!

    August 16, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Under the Ryan Plan, Romney Pays 0.87% in taxes

    Who said this on June 6, 1985: "We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy." – Ronald Reagan

    Mittens paying 13% is just as crazy. If Mittens wants us to be convinced otherwise, he should release 12 years of tax returns. (He gave 23 years to the McCain campaign to be picked for VP; surely, running for President is more important than that.)

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    August 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. Let's Use Our Brains, People

    I keep reading posts from people that claim that Mitt Romney has paid everything he owes.

    How could you possibly know that?

    The fact is this: Mitt Romney, or any one of us for that matter, could have any amount, large or small, stashed away somewhere/anywhere on the planet we call Earth that only he knows about and he's not telling. For all you know, Romney could have an agreement with the Mormon church that turns around and puts his charitable contributions right back into his pocket through some means that none of us would ever be diabolical enough to think up. He wouldn't be the first person to avoid paying taxes and he certainly won't be the last. Did it ever cross your mind that there are actually people out there that claim deductions for expenses that they didn't actually incur?

    So please stop chanting the "he paid everything he owes or the IRS would be after him" mantra. Romney has already admitted that he has been audited "from time to time." You can't possibly know why he was audited and everything about his financial situation, nor do I suspect does the IRS.

    Not everyone in the United States is filling out their 1040 and happily disclosing everything............ That's why they call it tax evasion.

    August 16, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. robert

    everone on this post makeing hatefull statements about a man who has gone to church all his life and pays more than any probably on ths post in charitible contributions can all go to you know where!......I bet most if not all of the hatelful minded individuals on this post have probabley never paid taxes becuase they are either unemployed or living off a welfare program! there I said it! guess what I was once on welfare but I got off and have been gainfully employeed and pay taxes every freakin' year unlike the leaches who continue to fraud the system and look forward to government hand outs....if this is you, you will probably vote for obama........what a sad, sad, day in the USofA shoulc this idiot get re-elected.

    August 16, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Jeff - Sarasota, Florida

    Ok, now this is kind of interesting... He wants to add the money he paid to charity, which is a tax deduction and call it over 20%... On top of that, all he ever said was taxes... He never specifically said income taxes... Personaly property taxes on multiple homes can run around 13 percent...

    NOT only that, but the average person (middle class) pays around 15.5% taxes a year, so he is still paying over 2% less than people with way less then 10% of his income/wealth...

    August 16, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Under the Ryan Plan, Romney Pays 0.87% in taxes

    "$40B subsidies to oil companies reporting record profits during a global recession and reducing capital gains taxes to zero for people who already have hundreds of millions of dollars...those don't qualify as necessary...not even remotely. "

    And yet the GOP has become very adept at convincing folks who they otherwise despise (i.e., non-millionaires) that coddling the rich is what will turn our economy around – ALL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY notwithstanding.

    August 16, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. BHPT

    What I love is this specious republican argument that the tax return issue is a distraction from the "issue we should be discussing, jobs and the economy."
    News flash, republicans – Americans can actually consider more than one issue at a time! Time to release those returns or suffer the consequences. End of story.

    August 16, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. Butler

    I worked for 52 years and my tax rate has always been more than 15%. That includes the time I spent in the military. You folks who think it is okay to have Romney pay a tax rate of "around" 13% while you and your families are paying above that because you are earning your income from breaking you back, truly deserve what you may get. I guess that just validates the fact the the U.S. is 25th in the world in education (math and science).

    August 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $500,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easy to be fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $106,800 level. Now I only pay 1.3% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    August 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Under the Ryan Plan, Romney Pays 0.87% in taxes

    Mittens release 12 years of tax returns would prove that the GOP is engaging in class warfare and that the system is rigged in the favor of the rich.

    And then where'd the GOP be? Up the creek, because Lord knows, they don't have any policies that actually work and rely solely on divide and conquer.

    August 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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