Romney pays extra taxes to keep his word, and break it too
September 21st, 2012
03:13 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney pays extra taxes to keep his word, and break it too

(CNN) – Mitt and Ann Romney took steps to pay more in taxes than he had to last year, despite the Republican nominee's previous statements suggesting he abhors the idea of paying more taxes than required.

According to an announcement by the campaign Friday, the Romneys could have had a lower tax rate than 14.1% in 2011 if they had claimed more of their charitable deductions–an amount that equaled 30% of their income. Romney made $13.7 million mostly off of investment income last year.

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However, the Romneys only claimed 16% in charitable deductions, thus keeping their income tax rate higher, in order "to conform" to Romney's previous comments about his tax rate, the statement read Friday.

Speaking with reporters in South Carolina last month, Romney said he had never paid less than 13% over the last decade. While he had released an estimate for 2011 at the time, he did not release the completed return until Friday. The document showed he in fact paid 14.1% last year.

The Republican presidential nominee has faced intense criticism from Democrats and some Republicans who have called on Romney to release more than his 2011 and 2010 returns. Releasing the documents, they argued, would answer questions about the candidate's offshore accounts and tax history.

His move to limit his charitable deduction-and keep a higher rate of taxes-last year, however, seems to butt heads with statements the former Massachusetts governor has made regarding taxes.

"I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due, I don't think I'd be qualified to become president," Romney told ABC News in July. "I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."

Earlier in the year, at a Republican primary debate in Tampa, Romney made a similar remark, criticizing the notion of paying more than owed.

"I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more," Romney said, one day before he released his 2010 return. "I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."

To be fair, Romney did pay what he "legally owed" last year; he just kept his legal requirement lower than what it could have been.

Romney's campaign responded to the discrepancy, saying the candidate wanted to be "consistent" with his August comment.

"Gov. Romney has been clear that no American need pay more than he or she owes under the law. At the same time, he was in the unique position of having made a commitment to the public that his tax rate would be above 13%. He directed his preparers to ensure that he is consistent with that statement," a campaign official said in a statement.

– CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Boo

    People seem to forget that when you give to charity, YOU GET A TAX DEDUCTION. So all you Robme fans, don't try to convince me this guy gives to charity out of the goodness of his heart. I am not buying it. That said, this guy is a liar and I will not vote for him.

    September 21, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. wgf

    "I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more," Romney said, one day before he released his 2010 return. "I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."

    To listen to Romney speak, you'd think he were impoverished and in need of every last penny in order to survive.

    Actually, who I want for President is someone who is trustworthy enough to release 10 years of tax returns. I also want someone who isn't so consumed with greed that, having amassed a fortune that would easily last most of us 1,000 lifetimes, isn't going to fantastic lengths to avoid paying taxes, isn't betting against the US in his investments and isn't parking his money off shore in tax free havens.

    September 21, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. v_mag

    For years, the top income tax rate was 90% or more, and none of the millionaires went hungry. Some grumbled, but so do some middle class people. We used to have an actual middle class back then, not this shriveled up little thing we have now. A big part of that, and what made America stronger, was the "redistribution" caused by a progressive income tax structure.

    The simple fact is that if you let people grind all they can out of the system, they will grind the country to powder. The rich become bullies, and with all the power in their hands, they force the rest of us into poverty. It's why we don't like monopolies: They take over, get sloppy, raise prices, and abuse customers. History is the record of people rising to power and then becoming absolutely corrupted by it. The tax code is a partial brake on that power, and it is one of the few things that will keep America out of 3rd world status.

    It's insanity to allow someone pulling in $14M a year to keep all but 14% of it. That is a prescription for the destruction of America and the freedom it stands for. Why are people not carrying pitchforks and heading to Romney's house about now? The POS only paid 14%!!!

    September 21, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Good grief

    Obama supporters are so pathetic. They criticize a guy for "only" paying nearly $2 million in taxes and for contributing 30% of his income to charity. Why is it so hard to see that the country needs people to make successful investments to bring more capital into our country and to add to GDP. Where do you think that our country's wealth comes from? From the government? If all we do is service one another and take money from producers and give it to the government, where does the GDP growth come from? We are shifting our country's wealth the China and the other sovereigns to whom we sell our Treasury debt. That is a massive hit to our trade imbalance.

    Yes, Obama believes in wealth distribution. Distributing our country's wealth to the governments of China, Saudi Arablia, Qatar and other oil states that buy our Treasury debt. We can't run these deficits forever. We have to stop the out of control U.S. government spending. Raising taxes on our hard working citizens will not put a dent in this deficit. It only hurts U.S. citizens.
    Wake up people before it is too late.

    Tax and spend does not work.

    September 21, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. ram

    OK, so Romney is part of the few the tax code favours and these few are supposed to CREATE more jobs. Can Mr. Romney categorically say how many jobs he himself created all these years?

    September 21, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Ex-GOP Con

    =======================
    Actually...he took less of a government handout (charitable contribution deduction) but still took $2.2 million in government welfare charitable contribution deductions.

    Which went to the Mormon Church. So who exactly is the "victim dependent on government" again?
    =======================

    September 21, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. betterdays

    MCR, your math skills are atrocious. ("Maths" skills if you happen to be writing from London or something.) Think of percentages as fractions if that's easier for you. They don't work like whole numbers. The Romneys paid nearly two million dollars in federal taxes. That is many, many, many times the amount that the Obamas paid. Is all of this going over your head? Thought so.

    September 21, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. r

    14 mil in 10 yrs will only be worth 10 mil. are you going to make for that difference?

    September 21, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain: Mittens 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    @v_mag: Excellent post! Thanks for the reminder to all the (mostly white) folks who pine for the good ol' 50s ...

    September 21, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. What's wrong with this guy

    He goes and gives away his own money instead of giving away other people's money like us libs. How dare he.

    September 21, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. mcrusa

    Why hasn't a reporter asked Romney if he participated in the 2009 tax amnesty program?

    September 21, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. AmericanWaxwing

    I'm voting for Mitt Romney. We need some real leadership in the White House.

    September 21, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. RS_in_WI

    "He directed his preparers to ensure that he is consistent with that statement."

    From his OWN TRUSTEE'S statement:
    "... would have significantly reduced their tax obligation for the year. The Romneys thus limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor's statement in August"

    For someone who is selling themselves as a tax hawk fiscal conservative, that's pretty clearly 'cooking the books'. Whether its for an advantage or not, it's inaccurate accounting. The fact he explicility told his accountants to do it, so his tax rate would *match his statement*, intrinsically makes his statement a lie (because he said it, before the taxes were done).

    And I'll best many other contributors are correct: after the scrutiny blows over, ol' Mitt would file a tax amendment for the full deduction.

    September 21, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. shamsky24

    Sheesh, can this guy ever give a straight answer about ANYTHING?

    September 21, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. shamsky24

    Jeez, can this guy ever give a straight answer about ANYTHING?

    September 21, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. v_mag

    True Grit said: "The dirty, filthy, greedy rich like Romney don't pay their fair share!"
    --
    I know you didn't mean that, but I heartily agree. Things were relatively good back in the days before St.Ronnie Rayguns and Trickle Up. Back when a reasonable rate for somebody like Rob-money would be around 90%. No millionaires were starving or leaving the country or "creating" fewer jobs. I find it hard to believe that anyone feels 14% is the proper share for a person pulling in at least $14M a year. That's ridiculous.

    September 21, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. r

    damn if you and damn if you dont. America has become a lazy country with more non working class than working class..there used to be a time when folks used to work 2 jobs to maintian a house and family of 4 – and they were proud of themselves...todays citizenry want the money but not the effort that goes behind it....

    it takes a lot of compromise to reach the top..some good ones some nasty ones...can you make the nasty compromise of not seeing your family for weeks at a stretch??? Will your sposes allow you to be away that much??? if not then you need to respect succesfull folks and not go on a witch hunt..

    If this withc hunt goes on, american currency will no longer be the world currency..and when that happens – that will be the real tragedy. Most people dont understand how fortunate they are to be living in this country...sad....sad...sad

    September 21, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. serdich

    This classical Romney flip-flop..keep his word and break it too..

    September 21, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. v_mag2

    dear v-mag2 - How much did you pay in taxes last year. Whatever it was, it was insanity to let you keep that much of what you earned.

    September 21, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. RS_in_WI

    To TonyB:
    "he actually paid more than required so he could keep his word," This isn't called keeping your word!! This is adjusting the facts to match your lie. Do you think he overpaid in previous years (on purpose???) Doubtful. He only did it because he knew he would be busted for lying.

    "Did anyone notice that he gives about 30% of his annual income to charity?" He did last year. But so weird... his average is only 13%.... oh wait, that's a pretty clear indicator that he's taking actions to *appear* to be super benevolent in a presidential bid, but it's just a recent act.

    You're right "The guy can't win", 'cuz he's a duplicitous, brazen stage-act, saying almost anything to appeal to voters... Why is it that the actual truth wouldn't be appealing to voters??

    September 21, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Davis

    I don't care what Romney pays in taxes...But Romney is not an ethical person...he lacks character, he maybe great as a business man, but he is not qualified to be President. He needs to step aside and the party needs to put forth another candidate...Romney seems to do whatever it takes to fit into the continer you pour him into...ie no backbone or ethics.

    September 21, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. davecade

    i'm sure he'll change his mind about the over payment later.... liar liar magic underpants on fire....

    September 21, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. fred

    Romney makes most of his money through investing. The tax % for investment earnings is 15%. Anyone can get into the stock market. Investing is a risk.

    September 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. r

    And while folks are lyncing romney, why arent folks lynching the liberal celebrities?? Mitts richness is nothing compared to the take home pay for one movie for some of these superstars (who are democrats)....so please go ahead and lynch them as welll...
    please do not forget to lynch bill gates, steve jobs as well...Never mind the fact they are rich,pay around the same taxes as mitt does...these folks came from rags...

    September 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. Mike kerns

    The conservatards are desperate, with a 4 to 1 financial advantage there still losers on nov 6.

    September 21, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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