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. miki thinks

    Romney looked at 20 years of taxes and he paid all those taxes, oh my! We should trust him because he is a politician, and we all know that they never lie. Except when they say that they will only pay what they owe and not a penny moe. Register get proper ID and vote.

    September 21, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. wgf

    @ Jazel - "Go get a job that pays 13M per year so you can have your fair share of paying 4Million like Romney."

    This may be the stupidest statement ever made by anyone on any blog anywhere.

    September 21, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. r

    @davis – why is he unethical – coz hes a millionaire?? how about you?? what defines unethical?

    September 21, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. ME

    C Anderson – You're a liar. If you are a poor man you do not pay double the effective tax rate of Romney. In fact, if you are truly a "poor man" you probably pay little or no taxes.

    September 21, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. nc1965

    So it’s fitting that Romney would give us an “AVERAGE” over 20 years. Hiding the fact that in some of those years he paid no taxes.

    It has been over three years since Warren Buffett pointed out that he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his employees. In fact, his receptionist payed almost twice the percentage he pays, even though he doesn’t even take advantage of tax shelters that are available to the rich.

    It isn’t like the rich don’t appreciate this. Some of you may remember billionaire real estate baroness Leona Helmsley, who was prosecuted for fraud and tax evasion by then District Attorney Rudy Giuliani. During her trial, one of her maids famously quoted Helmsley as saying “We don’t pay taxes. The little people do.”

    So it is somewhat fitting that a study of the Helmsley Building shows that the rich residents of that building also pay a far smaller percentage of their income than “the little people”. The residents averaged over a million dollars in income in 2007, and yet they paid less than 15% of this in federal taxes.

    On the other hand, the workers in that building — janitors and security guards — who earned on average a paltry $30,000 dollars a year, paid as much as a quarter of that in federal taxes. Can you even survive in New York City on $23,000 a year?

    September 21, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Fortinbras

    For a minute there, I thought he was releasing 5 or 10 years. Nope, its just 2011. And I knew that was coming. And I knew that wasnt going to be enough. The damage is done.

    September 21, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. DocHollywood

    Romney's right, he's not qualified to be president. Why? Not because he paid so little taxes, everyone tries to take advantage of the current tax laws and will continue to do so until they're reformed. But because he thinks we're stupid to believe that he did this (not claim a deduction) thinking that paying more than 14% is better than 13%, when everyone knows that if there was no focus on his taxes, he'd have taken the full deduction and not batted an eye. For a man that doesn't seem stupid, he sure has been acting it lately.

    September 21, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. BO's Brain VJaret

    What we need to fix this country is to get rid of the tax code and enforce an income limit. No matter what you make, you can only keep $100k/year, if you are white the max is $50k/year. Thanks, Valeri

    September 21, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Shirley

    Voting for Romney. Never really liked him, but our country needs someone that can make money instead of losing it on failed business' or policies that hurt business,.

    September 21, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Why is everybody so critical of the tax rate that Romney pays? I just read one comment that called him a crook because he only pay 14.1%. A crook? The guy pays exactly how much the government asks him to pay, and even more in 2011! He isn't lying about anything. He is being perfectly honest in his tax returns. I don't think 14% is exactly fair for a multimillionaire, but I that is the way the government is set up! Not the way that Romney set it up. If the government changed its current policy and raised taxes on the Romney's tax bracket, he would most certainly pay the higher tax rate. The guy isn't a crook, he is honest and following the law that is put forth by the US government.

    September 21, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Kevin

    The media bias in my opinion towards Obama makes me want to vomit. Now, an article is written being critical of Romney's assertion that he does not like paying more than he should in taxes, but, in fact did so. You have to be kidding me. Why is there no article being written criticial of Obama's administration which for the last week was adamant that the Libyian attack was "spontaneous"; and, now turns and claims that it was "self-evident" that it was a terrorist attack. The best journalism I have seen in four years was the Q&A that Obama received from Univision. Questions that should be asked of Obama on a daily basis!

    September 21, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. Billie

    This guy would be critized if he pulled out his checkbook and paid off all of your mortgages! Listen to yourselves. You should be ashamed. Even if you disagree with his politics, you have to at least admit that he's an upstanding citizen and a moral guy. If you think otherwise then you just haven't been paying attention.

    September 21, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. Jack Bissette

    @ c anderson: You're an idiot SIR !!! "I'm poor and I pay more in taxes"..... read a book or something. It's actually over 14%... however that's the rate you pay when your income is based off INVESTMENTS (capital gains) !!!!! When Mr Romney was earning a check as head of Bain.... he was paying 38% to 52% (52% on bonuses or commission). If you think about ... Mr Romney actually is paying tax twice on money he has already earned. IT'S THAT SIMPLE !!!! Only a few years ago.... capital gains tax was over 33 1/3% .... see what he would be paying then !!!!! Come on people... don't be so BLIND and STUPID. Your hate is ridicules.

    September 21, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Ann

    MCR

    @Ann, you realize that 57% and 58% are roughly the same right? The Romneys therefore contributed 1% more than the Obamas, not 20x. If a person made $40k last year and gave $10k to charity would you be calling then cheap?

    As well without the last 10 years of tax returns how do we know that Romney didn't just start contributing such a large percentage of his income in 2007 when he started seriously looking at the presidency? This is one of the many reasons people want his returns, so they can have answers. If he has nothing to hide and consistently gave such a large percentage then he should release his returns so we can commend him.

    _---------
    And you realize that the amount of 6 million $ the Romneys gave to taxes + charity is about 20 times the $330,000 given by the Obamas, right? Why do you prefer to play with % rather than real amounts of $ given away? If you make $10 and you contribute $5, it's nice of you (boy, you gave us 50%).. but sorry, your $5 don't make a huge difference. Romney is contributing almost 6 million dollars, you got it?

    September 21, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    LOL – so Romney fudged the numbers to pay more tax than he would have done had nobody been asking. Too funny. Next year I bet he won't do that. Talk about cynical. Just another vain attempt to buy the election.

    September 21, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. bubba

    You can complain about Romney when you dish out $4.1 million to charity and $1.9 million in taxes in your LIFETIME. He does it in one year. $6 mil a year to charity an taxes.

    September 21, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Albin

    IF I was a candidate for the Presidency for a party favoring continuation of a ridiculously skewed tax regime, and IF I was personally in the habit of paying a ridiculously low annual rate of taxation as a result of a politically skewed tax regime, I might consider paying a little more in the year before the election to defuse criticism. I just might consider doing that.

    September 21, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Be Sane

    All seems pretty clear to me. Does Romney really think he is fooling ANYBODY?

    September 21, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. h2oclerk

    The man consistently gives 30% of his income to charities. Guess what = that makes a hell of a lot more sense than giving 30% to the government. As a deacon at his church, Romney personally helped people with advice and directly authorized the church's charitable stores to provide people needed foods and goods, including medical equipment.

    Obama did nothing comparable to help the needy in his private life. Plus Obama's a complete imbecile when it comes to economics and foreign policy.

    I'll take Romney over Obama any day.

    September 21, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Dave L - OHIO

    Who cares what he paid in taxes. Anything above 0 is more than Harry Reid (big fricking liar) said he paid. Just goes to show you the lies demoRATS are willing to tell. Obama is the biggest liar of them all...how much did this loser give to charity? A big socialist like him probably gave very little. WAKE UP PEOPLE....

    September 21, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. bplazony516@hotmail.com

    so he paid 14percent....on millions of dollars.....we paid about 5percent on less than 90,000....does anyone still not see that the tax brackets are not fair????

    September 21, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Watching in Canada

    Hey dumb dumb Steve jobs is no longer paying taxes anymore !!!

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

    Ha! I bet he'll file an ammended return next year to get the taxes back!! Too funny.

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

    LOL – so Romney fudged the numbers to pay more tax than he would have done had nobody been asking. Too funny. Next year I bet he won't do that. Talk about cynical. Just another vain attempt to buy the election. I'll bet he files an ammended return next year to recoup his "losses" on paying too much tax in 2011.

    September 21, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. David

    Romney got criticized for submitting last year's taxes on time so that the public could see them sooner. Even though he has been running for President for the past 6 years, since he doesn't need to hold a job but lives off his investments, like he did at Bain, you would think he would have had last year's taxes in order. He waits until a month before the election to release them; maybe he thinks that will put away the original request to see his taxes since he worked at Bain. Does anybody believe a word Romney says? That he only paid less than 14% the past 10 years. He most likely is averaging years where he paid less and a little more. He should release his taxes for the past 5 or 6 years, if it is true that he paid only 14%. Maybe he doesn't want people to see that he invested in foreign tax shelters abroad, or how he made his money. For bragging to so much about his millions he sure doesn’t want people to see how he made his money.

    To talk about charity write offs would mean more except that it appears he only gives to his Church, keeping the circle closed to family and friends and fellow churchgoers.

    It is surprising that the Republican challengers in the primary didn't vet Romney fully out; maybe he bought them out too.

    September 21, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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