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. Jeremy

    I love how the republicans were fixated on something that was proven like Obama's citizenship, and they are still fixated on it, or their fixation on something irrelevant like his grades in college, but they call the Democrats' fixation on Mitt Romney's unwillingness to do what many other presidential candidates have done a waste of time on small issues. HYPOCRISY AT ITS BEST!

    August 16, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  2. scott

    Thats rich Adam...even Mitt says his budget will add to the debt....thats what happens when you cut taxes and fight wars remember?...and I just feel terrible about Mitt paying 13% in taxes...we should give all the rich folk some more money, dont ya think? Oh and the corporations too, Exxon and BP are really struggling.

    August 16, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  3. Jack

    Haha, Adam. And the Republican's pushing the "birth certificate" issue wasn't a waste of time?

    August 16, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  4. Derangedcowbrain

    Where do I sign up for 13% taxes?

    August 16, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  5. scmaize

    There are different ways of looking at that 13%. Presumably, he pays 13% on his taxable income, but much of his income may be tax-free (like many bonds, or certain overseas accounts). He has income of over $20,000,000 per year. Let's say that eight million is taxable, and twelve million in annual income is tax-free, or tax-deferred, like IRAs. He would pay 13% on eight million, but it would only be a little over 5% of his total annual income. It would be perfectly legal; but it still might trouble people who don't make much money, but pay 25 or 30% of their total income in taxes. Many wealthy people probably like keeping their taxes private, but they don't run for President! If Romney wants to be President, he will have to give up some privacy. His decision. A man who says he has nothing to hide regarding taxes needs to prove it. "Trust me", when he could clear things up immediately, doesn't cut it.

    August 16, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  6. Leopoldkitty

    What? I pay approximately 33% of my taxes on a 70K salary in NYC..How is this fair? Romney has no clue. His followers are equally as clueless.

    August 16, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  7. John

    I read how the liberals want to know Romney's last 10 years of how much he has paid in taxes and yet I hear crickets from the very same group who is not asking Obama to release his LIFE to the general public. You liberals claim he is a transparent president and has nothing to hide to the entire American population, then why have his life practically sealed to us? Why won't he release all of his records to the American people? Here is a list that needs to be explained to ALL Americans:
    Marriage license between Obama’s father (Barak Sr.) and mother (Stanley Ann Dunham) — not found, not released
    Obama’s baptism records — sealed
    Obama’s adoption records — sealed
    Records of Obama’s and his mother’s repatriation as US citizens on return from Indonesia — not found, not released
    Name change (Barry Sotero to Barack Hussein Obama) records — not found, not released
    Noelani Elementary School (Hawaii) — not released
    Punahou School financial aid or school records — not released
    Occidental College financial aid records — not released. (These records were, however, subpoenaed but Obama lawyers succeeded in quashing the subpoena in court. No other Occi records have been released.)
    Columbia College records — not released
    Columbia senior thesis — not released
    Harvard Law School records (not mentioned below, but not released)
    Obama’s law client list — sealed
    Obama’s files from career as an Illinois State Senator — Sealed
    Obama’s record with Illinois State Bar Association — sealed
    Obama’s medical records — not released
    Obama’s passport records — not released

    You want Romney to prove it to you, then Obama MUST release all of his sealed records to us NOW! Time to make Obama to release ALL his RECORDS!!!!! Obama, prove to us you have nothing to hide and show us your RECORDS!!!

    August 16, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  8. floyd

    Romney releases his taxes ,he looses. Romney does not release his taxes,he looses. In other words ,Romney is a looser.

    August 16, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  9. ArtInChicago

    Now let's read between the lines....what did you pay in INCOME taxes. Is the 13% your combined tax paid for Federal, State and Local taxes or was it your Federal tax alone? Were any of the tax years amended returns such that the tax rate increased? Which year in those 10 years were you audited? I trust this guy as far as I can throw the Washington Monument.

    August 16, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  10. AZinTX

    I think Gov. Romney should release his tax forms....when Pres. Obama unseals all of his records as well. For all you out there saying Gov. Romney has somehow broken the law, do you not believe in innocent until proven guilty. Oh and just so you know the law isn't to release a decade of tax returns.

    August 16, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  11. planofhappiness

    So either Harry Reid's source was lying or Mitt Romney is lying. Now, if Reid's source is legitimate, he could single-handedly decide the election by discrediting Mitt Romney. We should get a fund raiser going to encourage Harry Reid's source to come forward and the election will be Obama's!!!

    August 16, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. ssachida

    Republicans sure know how to waste time on finding reasons like WMD to go to war with Iran and bring the 1930s depression back. Of course, they also know how to waste time on Obama's birth certificate.

    August 16, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  13. Beth

    Wow, I wish I only paid 13%! Must be nice, especially knowing he could afford to pay a heck of a lot more than that and still be super rich, while the middle class pays a higher tax rate and struggles to keep their heads afloat! Thanks Mitt! How is that right or fair? Make sure if you get elected to keep the tax rates low for the rich! ... Let's pray he never gets the chance!!! ... OBAMA '12 all the way!

    August 17, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  14. Anonymous

    13%? Whoop Dee Doo!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  15. my1cent

    This is typical hypocritical statement by either parties.. Last election, Obama had to release the birth certificate, until then some of the republicans wont shut up.. why should you expect democrats shut up? If there is no issue, why cant he release the tax returns? I voted republican last two election likely to vote republican again..I think Romney is hiding something

    August 17, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  16. Harry From Pa

    Where are the papers, we want to see them Romney. you can tell us all you want but it don't mean jack till you show them.

    August 17, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  17. AllrightyThen

    Citizens – this is easy math and nothing but a smoke screen. Mitt's handlers are using an average to hide the likely 2 years he paid 0% taxes in the past 10 years. The below example shows a 10 year average (rounded up – as the handlers do):
    Year Rate
    2012 15
    2011 15
    2010 0
    2009 0
    2008 16
    2007 17
    2006 15
    2005 17
    2004 16
    2003 17
    Average 12.8

    Enjoy...

    August 17, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  18. Skip

    Come on. 13%. Can we all get the name of his accoutant/lawyers so we all can pay the same rate. Oh, can he please show his last 10 returns so we also can all learn how he does it.

    August 17, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  19. Franky

    Waste time. Hey Adam did you pay only 13% in taxes and make 22 million on average per year, that's what Romney paid, you piece of isht. This is why middle class gets f..ked people like you that are in it and have no problem with someone with alot more income paying a much smaller percentage of his income than you. Even though they have far more disposable income. What's wrong with you, man?

    August 17, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  20. Franky

    Waste time. Hey Adam did you pay only 13% in taxes and make 22 million on average per year, that's what Romney paid, you piece of isht. This is why middle class gets the shafy people like you that are in it and have no problem with someone with alot more income paying a much smaller percentage of his income than you. Even though they have far more disposable income. What's wrong with you, man?

    August 17, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  21. Franky

    Waste time. Hey Adam did you pay only 13% in taxes and make 22 million on average per year, that's what Romney paid.. This is why middle class gets shaft people like you that are in it and have no problem with someone with alot more income paying a much smaller percentage of his income than you. Even though they have far more disposable income. What's wrong with you, man?

    August 17, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  22. BeverlyNC

    Sure he did...and he want us to "trust" him??? Just like he told the people of MA to "trust" him that he had the 7 yr residency requirement to run for Governor. That was a lie too.
    We should "trust" him after his chooses one of the most extreme obstructionist members of this Republican Congress who created a budget that KILLS Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and every welfare program from food stamps to free school lunches for poor children and whose voting record is the most anti-woman you can possibly be.
    These two Republicans are dshonest, have no morals, values we Americans recognize and only have one priority – kill all social programs to pay for more corporate tax cuts and even lower taxes for the rich. They don't represent We the People and they do no deserve a single vote from any of us "real human people" as opposed to the "Corporate personhood and Welfare programs for them.
    Romney is a liar and Ryan is just a male Palin. I am standing with President Obama – a real leader with a proven record of actual leadership and success both foreign and domestic.

    August 17, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. Andrew

    I can't believe he so readily confesses to paying less than his fair share and much less than the typical middle class American. The Bush Special Tax Rates For Millionaires have got to go!

    August 17, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  24. Sarah Palin

    MItt. Show us some substance.

    August 17, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  25. noly972

    If he would just release the returns like everyone else, the American people wouldn't have questions as to why he's stonewalling and what he may be hiding. Since we know what he paid in 2010 and he's faced the heat from that, his tax rate can't be the issue. That's especially true since he's stated that his tax rate has been as low as 13% over the past ten years; nobody seems surprised. There must be something else; something that renders him unelectable. It's too bad, for him, that not releasing the returns (that he apparently has at hand) will definitely cost him some votes. Now I'm not saying that this single issue will cost him the election; I'm saying that the crush of other issues gains weight with his refusal to release the returns. This will likely cause some traditionally Republican voters to stay home on election day to avoid voting for either the hated Obama or that sneaky, Mormon Romney (who's obviously hiding something). The same can be said about Independents (except for the Mormon thing) who might otherwise lean slightly his way but have trouble trusting him over this; they don't want to vote for either major candidate. I see a larger than usual turnout for the Libertarians in November with the lost Democratic voters added to those other groups. I believe that the President will be re-elected since more possible swing support will be lost by Romney than Obama. This issue will be the catalyst that will cause some marginal Romney supporters to stay home or vote for either Gary Johnson or Obama (where the Libertarians aren't on the ballot). The question is: How many votes will this cost Mitt Romney? The answer: Enough for a re-election. Sadly, not a landslide; but the votes aren't counted, yet.

    August 17, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
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