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. betterdays

    So now the president of the United States proclaims that Romney has "forfeited his right" to keep his tax returns private? Really? He's forfeited his right because you declare it to be so? The utter gall.

    What an arrogant, out-of-control megalomaniac this Obama has proven himself to be. Every day a new and more desperate attempt to divert attention from the fact that he has accomplished virtually nothing that won't prove to be fraught with unintended negative consequences at some point down the line.

    August 16, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Elaine

    The issue isn't so much the rate of taxes Romney paid; rather the issue is what was Romney's gross income? If his income was reduced by depreciation-rich tax shelters offererd by many private equity funds, or his basis was artificially inflated by means such as Son of BOSS, both of which reduce a taxpayer's AGI, or was not subject to US tax in the first place, as in the case of off-shore investments, then its meaningless to state the tax rate. So please, Mr. Romney, tell us your total gross income, worldwide, before deduction of paper losses and without the benefit of Son of BOSS basis adjustments, then tell us what your EFFECTIVE tax rate was for each of the last 10 years. My guess is that this is the real reason Romney won't disclose his tax returns - then the public could see the extent of tax shelters which only the wealthy are able to enjoy.

    August 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Dick

    "Trust but verify.' Ronald Reagan. Me thinks Mitt should show the American electorate his tax returns.

    August 16, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. eroteme

    The question for Reid, bless him, and others should be, did Romney pay taxes as the tax laws require. What percentage, whether 13% or not should not be a worry. But even if payment of his taxes is not a problem, Democrats can still claim he is a felon, a murderer, a tax cheat, and other nasty things.

    August 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Esme

    13% paid in taxes from one of America's wealthiest men (I say that based on that he is in the top 1% bracket)...

    Does that seem fair ?

    I wish I could hand out 13% of my income even to the charities I support. Including to my church, as I am sure much of Romney's 13% goes to as his church calls for 10% of his income.

    I happily pay my lower middle-class taxes, but once that is done, I don't have another 13% to spare. Good for Mr. Romney and the charities he supports I guess.... I however would personally prefer that just like my tax money, the extra +13% Mr. Romney makes a deal out of pointing out he 'gives back to charities,' would go to support the democracy of the United States.

    August 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. Larry L

    @Bob

    HA! Democrats you are looking worse and worse by the minute with this liar Harry Reid.
    ----------------------------------------------------
    You somehow think Romney's claim of 13% tax rates makes the Democrats look bad? First of all he hasn't shown us anything and Romney lies a lot! Secondly, common folks pay more than 13% and his "admission" doesn't mean crap to them. He can make Harry Reid look foolish if he releases his tax returns. Why wouldn't he do that?

    August 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. Parsing This

    I am guessing that Mass. State income tax is included in this figure so take 5.3% off of 13.0% and you are in the 8% federal range. I would love to see how that happens. Add to that $100m plus in an IRA and one could say this guy has been a near perfect investor ($2,000/year time how many years?). Sorry, not my class of Republican.

    August 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. lolo

    Whatever. Show us the actual returns. You think that you saying that you paid only 13% on half a billion dollars over ten years is going to make it alright and true? Sure you jest.This man is nothing but a bald faced liar and his wife is not far behind him for covering it up.

    August 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. MMcMahon

    by bokehbrian August 16, 2012 12:24 AM EDT
    What I am about to say is 100% true, and I am only sharing it because there is no job more important then US President, and as an American we should vote, and we have a right to be informed to make the right decision. So you know I am not some random whack job I will tell you my name is Brian Murphy, I am CEO of JRM Resource Management and have worked for government IT contractors for the past 15 years (look it up)

    A few nights ago I went out to dinner with some old associates. the person I am speaking about in this post was one of the people there. I have known him for 13 years. He spent 8 years working at the IRS as a senior IT person working on TIPPS, the web integration with large companies and several other projects.

    After dinner we were having a few drinks and discussing the election. The topic of "would Romney release any more tax returns?" came up. My friend laughed and said "ill bet you a years pay that no matter how much heat he takes he won't release a single year more" and then laughed.

    All of us there knowing he spent several years at the IRS pushed him "why? what do you know?" we asked with a joking smile.

    He paused then took a drink and looked at us and said "because, if he did he would have to show everyone that he took amnesty for a crime at the very least, and I can't imagine he would have a snowballs chance in hell of being elected if that came out" then he took a drink and refused to elaborate.

    I asked him several times if he was serious and he said he was. In 13 years i have NEVER known him to tell a lie, certainly not make up a story.

    Although he failed to elaborate the ONLY thing he possibly could have been referring to was the amnesty the IRS offered US citizens who were hiding assets in Switzerland a few years back. He certainly worked there, certainly worked where and in the place where it would be possible for him to have access to that information.

    Id bet 10k Mitt does not release any more returns.

    August 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. MMcMahon

    The following was posted on CBS's website. I did look this guy up (Google) and he appears to be a real person who works in the profession he represents in his post.

    by bokehbrian August 16, 2012 12:24 AM EDT
    What I am about to say is 100% true, and I am only sharing it because there is no job more important then US President, and as an American we should vote, and we have a right to be informed to make the right decision. So you know I am not some random whack job I will tell you my name is Brian Murphy, I am CEO of JRM Resource Management and have worked for government IT contractors for the past 15 years (look it up)

    A few nights ago I went out to dinner with some old associates. the person I am speaking about in this post was one of the people there. I have known him for 13 years. He spent 8 years working at the IRS as a senior IT person working on TIPPS, the web integration with large companies and several other projects.

    After dinner we were having a few drinks and discussing the election. The topic of "would Romney release any more tax returns?" came up. My friend laughed and said "ill bet you a years pay that no matter how much heat he takes he won't release a single year more" and then laughed.

    All of us there knowing he spent several years at the IRS pushed him "why? what do you know?" we asked with a joking smile.

    He paused then took a drink and looked at us and said "because, if he did he would have to show everyone that he took amnesty for a crime at the very least, and I can't imagine he would have a snowballs chance in hell of being elected if that came out" then he took a drink and refused to elaborate.

    I asked him several times if he was serious and he said he was. In 13 years i have NEVER known him to tell a lie, certainly not make up a story.

    Although he failed to elaborate the ONLY thing he possibly could have been referring to was the amnesty the IRS offered US citizens who were hiding assets in Switzerland a few years back. He certainly worked there, certainly worked where and in the place where it would be possible for him to have access to that information.

    Id bet 10k Mitt does not release any more returns.

    August 16, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. standright

    So Romney paid 3 million in taxes in 2010, about 3.2 million in 2011. So over a 10 year period, he has paid over $30 million dollars in taxes. Obviously he's had years where he's made more and paid more. Obviously he probably paid a much higher rate when he was earning his wealth – it's different now that he is living off of investments – that's just tax law.

    According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan organisation, the average American pays an average tax rate of 12.60% percent on their income as of 2008, or about $4,030 per year. So with 3.1 million per year, Mitt pays 769% more than the average person, at an age that he's not even working!

    We should not be making a stink about this – Mitt is not complaining about his tax rate, and has even suggested to close some loopholes. Nobody is making the case that the burden is unfairly on the backs of the middle class.

    I don't make a lot, but I'm certainly not looking for a loser or poor man to run the country. We're all in danger of being corrupted by money – it's finding those that seem to resist that and have a vision.

    August 16, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. JacinJax

    @smallworld

    What you describe is basic tax 101 but Romney lives in a world of advance money manipulation. If you support Romney, then support him but don't act like he's just a regular guy.

    August 16, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Me thinks Mitt should show the American electorate his tax returns.'

    He doesn't respect us enough to do so.

    August 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Dan

    Why have I paid over 20% every single year, but Romney pays 13%?

    August 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. G Smith

    The devil is ALWAYS in the details...Mr.Romney release your taxes....Trust me doesn't hunt...and frankly it would be totally irresponsible for the American electorate to hand the power of the Presidency without a proper vetting of YOU!

    August 16, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Shayna

    Att Betterdays: Accomplished nothing? Have you not noticed we are virtually out of the recession? My life & that of my friends & family are much better than 4 yrs ago when we were on the brink of a Depression. The world respects us again. Our enemies hate Obama & our friends love him. Republicans are incapable of giving credit where credit is due.

    August 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. betterdays

    If you are truly that upset because someone earns more money than you and pays a lower percentage (not amount) in taxes, then I'm sorry to inform you that this is the way the world works. You would still be angry no matter how much he paid in taxes because he makes more money than you do. You will always find something that is "unfair;" it's the way you operate. Oh woe is you. You'd love confiscatory taxes on the wealthy because that's your idea of fair, when it's actually quite unfair (and immoral), and you are just envious.

    This apparently comes as a shock to you, but there are wealthy people and not-so-wealthy people and poor people in every country on the planet, and it's been that way since the dawn of man. Sorry about your oppression.

    August 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "So now the president of the United States proclaims that Romney has "forfeited his right" to keep his tax returns private? "

    Based on the following direct quote, the answer is quite clearlyk no, he did not say that:

    "he has forfeited the right to have us take him just at his word.""

    That means Mittens has every right to keep them private, but if he does, he has no right to expect us to just believe the smiliing-pretty white man.

    August 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. captainfantastic

    Your headline says Romney reveals more in taxes.....he revealed noting CNN...nada...zippo...he SAYS what he paid...he did not reveal it...CNN has officially become the network of Romney...amazing...disgusting...what used to be a source of news is now another corporate mouthpiece for the rich....

    August 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. B. Covey

    Now that Romney has answered the tax question can we please find out why Obama has a FRAUDULENT Social Security number???

    August 16, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Jeff in Virginia

    Romney- that's great. I/We still do not believe you.

    August 16, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    13% of what? Does that include the money stashed away in Switzerland and the Caymans? Even if that includes everything, I make far far less than him and pay a higher effective rate. Someone explain to me why that is fair. I can't see it.

    August 16, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. Sandra

    Based on the information I saw from a previous posting, I'd bet it's because he took the IRS offer of Tax Amnesty. No wonder he doesn't want us to know.

    August 16, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. HA

    The problem the GOP has with Mitt releasing his taxes is he did nothing wrong in paying 0% while making hundreds of millions but how can you then ask for more taxes cuts when you are already pay nothing? It's a system setup by the GOP for the GOP and the rest of us can go to hell. I'd take a 13% tax rate any day but you have to be rich to get it!

    August 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. Esme

    @ sad4willis, you write "Why is a request for seeing Romney's income tax returns any different than the Republicans' insistence on seeing Obama's birth certificate?"

    Here are two dang good reasons for you:

    1. It is today the norm to release your tax returns when running for this office (unlike your birth certificate).

    Actually, one who set the high standards of this precedence, was George Romney, Mitt Romney's dad (!!!) who released 12 YEARS of tax returns when he ran for President in 1968 - as a matter of showing the people his cards to who he was, his priorities and his interest.

    2. Income tax returns are not requested because anyone is questioning that Mr. Romney is American, and thus eligible to run for the Presidency.

    Asking to see our Presidents birth certificate is an incredible insult – one trying to undermine the fact that he is our legally elected President of the United States.

    August 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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