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. Josh

    I read the first four paragraphs and since when is giving money to charity considered a tax, especially of 7%?? I'm confused. Anytime I've given to charity, I get a tax write-off and should therefore get more money back from the federal government... Any help here? Or is it considered how little a write off you get versus the amount you give? If the latter is the case, I still don't think it appropriate for a presidential candidate to say donations to charity are considered a tax.

    August 17, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  2. Paul

    Contrary to what the Republicans want people to believe, this is not a small issue. This is an example of where millionaires (wealthy Americans) are able to structure their affairs to minimize their income taxes. The Republicans had no problem pushing the government into debt during Dubya's tenure as long as the funds were used to give wealthy Americans reduced income tax bills. Today, Romney confirmed he was one of those beneficiaries. The question is whether those Bush era tax cuts did anything for the greater good of the country. Pull out your tax returns and calculate your effective tax rate and then you can ask yourself whether wealthy people like Romney paid their fair share.

    August 17, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  3. Corbin

    I guess we should just believe him without the proof, just like everyone believes Obama was born here with the proof.

    August 17, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  4. don

    If I am in the 50% tax bracket due to my income and I WORK for it, don't tell me I am being "SMALL MINDED" when I would like to know what Mitt Romney will do with my money as President, knowing he only pays 13%, IF THAT, because of tax loop holes for the rich and investments, that he intends to KEEP and finance by cutting services to the poor and middle class. Look Mr. 264 million in net worth Romney. YOU sir, are being small minded by not thinking like a PRESIDENT should about everyone, and not just your rich, park the money off shore, friends who are running this country into the ground. How many bankers are you BEST BUDDIES with anyway......

    August 17, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  5. Ticktockman0

    Wow! 13%. 13 whole percent. Well, now I feel bad about calling Romney a parasite. And I am sure he off-shored a bunch of his money for good reason. We should all just shut up about him and annoint him President already...

    Yeah, right.

    August 17, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  6. Jose M. Pulido

    A candidate for the presidential nomination should not be ashamed to disclose his annual income and assets. Mitt Romney has only said he paid 13 percent as income tax for the last 10 years but he refuses to disclose his annual income and assets (I&A).
    The fact that Mr. Romney avoids to disclose his I&A is an insult to the American people. Such refusal to disclose his I&A makes him look like a mafia crook GOP candidate who has something to hide.
    I do not think the American people will forgive his apathy regarding the disclosure of his I&A. Apart from his vicious campaign of lies and deception against President Barak Obama, and the fact that he belongs to such a pagan sect called Mormonism compounded with his refusal to disclose his I&A will contribute to his defeat as a presidential candidate.
    But in order for him to lose the presidential election, I advise him to continue displaying his apparent natural cynicism and contempt toward the American people and President Obama regarding the disclosure of I&A as well as his lies and deception about the president.

    August 17, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  7. Mike

    You might want to give the republicans time to find Obama's "real" birth certificate before you assign Congress it's next daunting task. Pot, I'd like to introduce you to Kettle. Oh, you've met before?

    August 17, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  8. JHello

    It is not the rate he paid on his reported income, it is the effective rate that should be a concern. In all those years but 2009 did he have income in overseas accounts that was not reported on his return? If he had such income and did not report it, but that total income is compared to the taxes he paid, it would bring that rate down.

    More importantly, did Romney take advantage of the off shore account amnesty offered in 2009, that allowed such income to be reported in that 2009 return subject to a penalty. If that is what occurred, not wanting folks to see that 2009 explains a good bit. It would confirm that Romney was a tax cheat in prior years and few would vote for a tax cheat. What happens to the Republican party if this does not come out until after the convention?

    August 17, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  9. jason

    this guy is a joke. all this talk and all he has to do is disclose his tax returns for the last 12 years. but he wont. why? the only logical reason u can come up with is because he doesn't want us to see them. if this guy gets elected president, i fear where we are heading. this guy is EVIL.

    August 17, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  10. jhalldor

    Romney is disgusting. What a disgrace to the party of Lincoln.

    August 17, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. renopadre

    Wow! If you add that with the money he gave to charity it would be over 20%. You deducted the donations . Next time don't claim them and see if you still give them.

    August 17, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  12. jhalldor

    Disgusting. Romney is a disgrace and should withdraw from the race.

    August 17, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  13. Tony in St. Louis

    Because he's stalled on this for so long, ...Romney has zero credibility on anything he says. I'll assume he's all lies, until he shows his returns. I guess I'm ind of like the birther people, except I just want what every other Presidential wanna be has provided. And not what no other President has been questioned on. That's all!!!! Yada yada yada,,,

    August 17, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  14. Terry Brookman

    He gives enough to charity and other things to lower his tax rate and the taxes he pays per year are enough to let most people live like kings for the rest of their lives, What could be wrong with that? A Senator gets payed for the rest of their life and the perks like health, security are way beyond what most of us make in a life time. Congressman get a little less money but the perks are the same. I will not go into the illegal stuff like lobbyist money, I could name a dozen ways they get paid, off the books. I am talking about Republicans and Democrats, a bigger bunch of thieves has never been assembled.

    August 17, 2012 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  15. James

    13% is way lower than what I paid. The main issue is " Was Romney still involved with Bain between 1999 and 2002 and was he being paid?" The tax records will likely show that he was on both counts and that is why he is not releasing them.

    August 17, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  16. Shirley

    Mitt Romney paid 13% in taxes over the past 10 years BUT if you figure in his charitable donations it was at least 20%. Charitable donations are a TAX DEDUCTION. How do they become taxable income? I am retired on a fixed income and I certainly do NOT make $20,000,000 a year.....more like $40,000. My income tax rate is 28%. Granted, I do not have tax havens in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, or Switzerland. How can a multimillionaire pay a lower tax rate than me? Can anyone explain this?

    August 17, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  17. bmckay

    Waste time on small issues? How about the Republicans and their incessant "birther" issue. And their demand for Obama's school records. Now that is small minded. Tax evasion on the other hand is NOT a waste of time when it applies to a Presidential candidate.

    August 17, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  18. MediaSELLS

    Asking a potential candidate to release their tax returns and being met with an aggressive 'trust me.' SCREAMS the term "SHADY". If Romney is America's best hope then explain why he has NEVER done anything for America? He moves his money offshore, he dodges the draft, he doesn't pay his taxes (and if he does, it's at a far lower rate than any middle class American pays in relation to their entire income) – The numbers don't lie. Romney is a slime ball, his followers are mindless and convinced they know what they're talking about even though basic MATH says otherwise... – It could be raining bricks and they'd be convinced it was cotten candy if Fox News reported it as such.

    August 17, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  19. RudyG

    If Obama can get people talking about Romney's tax returns for one day, that's one more day he can get closer to the election without talking about his failures with the economy.
    I have some doubts about Romney – but I have no doubts about Obama.

    August 17, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  20. Tammy Webb

    @ Adam...SMALL issues?! We dealt with one extremely deceptive President fro eight miserable years. UNFUNDED WARS ring a bell?I would say that this is a lot more important than that whole BIRTH CERTIFICATE crap, that persists to this day, I might add! If Romney is cheating the same people that he wants to govern BEFORE he gets in, WTH do you think he's going to do once he gets in there?! Geeeez! REALLY?!

    August 17, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  21. Joseph Jones

    He (Mitt) dose not say "Income" tax only refers to Paying Tax and at 13% is way lower than most ll of us,this may be what Harry Reid was refering to that he didn't pay "income Tax". Mitt probable paid alot of property tax on all those homes he owns around the world and county, sales tax, and other such taxes except "income tax". He is no doubt hiding something horrific otherwise there is no reason not to come out with it. How could anybody trust someone like this to be President let alone some one you would not hire to baby sit you kids?

    August 17, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  22. T

    If this is true, we should elect someone who will raise tax rates on people earning multiple millions of dollars a year (even if it's capital gains).

    August 17, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  23. Tammy Webb

    AND, if people like Romney paid there damn share instead of hiding their money overseas, we might be able to pay some of this deficit down! I would much rather see my tax dollars working for the American people instead of paying it out to Haliburton and the likes! It's funny that none of you, Republicans have even acknowledged that ObamaCare is very similar to the plan that Mitt proposed as governor of Mass... I'm sure you are all waiting to see if it's successful, THEN we will hear anout how Obama stole his idea! :/

    August 17, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  24. Frank

    Sure you did, Mitt. Sorry, but we need to see your tax returns.

    August 17, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  25. Sean

    13 percent?? If I recall correctly most of us working Joes pay double that. But Mitt Is looking out for me right? And not just his own wallet and rich corporate hedge fund buddies?

    I'm no Obama lover but the last thing in the world I want in the white house is another out of touch rich boy trying to one up daddy by being president. Last time we got George W., two wars, thousands of American heros dead, worst financial crisis since the great depression ( has everybody forgotten who got us in the financial mess??) and Sept 11th. Stay in the clubhouse Mitt and keep hiding your money overseas to reduce your tax burden.

    August 17, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
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