Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released
April 13th, 2012
08:27 AM ET
10 years ago

Tax fight gets personal as Obama and Biden returns released

(CNN) – The fight over how best to tax the American people turned to the personal finances of the two competing presidential candidates Friday, as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden released their 2011 tax returns and called for all-but-certain GOP nominee Mitt Romney to do the same.

The move comes after a week of aggressive promotion from the White House and Obama's reelection campaign on the so-called "Buffett Rule," a measure increasing the tax rate to 30% for Americans making more than $1 million per year.

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The tax returns released by the White House showed Obama and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, made $789,674 in income in 2011, and paid an effective federal tax rate of 20.5%. Biden and his wife made $379,035 and paid $87,900 in total federal tax.

In a post on the White House blog accompanying the returns' release, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wrote the president's proposed "Buffett Rule" would actually increase the percentage of income the Obamas would pay in taxes.

"Under the President's own tax proposals, including the expiration of the high-income tax cuts and limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it," Carney wrote.

Jim Messina, the campaign manager of Obama's reelection bid, called on Romney to release his 2011 tax return in a statement.

"Mitt Romney's defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question - what does he have to hide?" Messina wrote.

He continued, "Governor Romney may try once again to play by his own set of rules, but Americans will hold him accountable for trying to hide his record."

The deadline for filing 2011 taxes is Tuesday, though taxpayers may request an extension from the Internal Revenue Service.

Anticipating the pressure to release Romney's tax returns, the former Massachusetts governor's campaign said Obama's campaign was diverting attention from a failed economic record, adding that Romney would release his documents as soon as they're filed.

"It's no surprise with the worst job creation record in modern history that President Obama would try to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows," Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. "Gov. Romney has already released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 income and taxes. He will release his full 2011 return when it is filed."

Romney's tax returns previously arose as an issue in January, when Democrats along with fellow Republican presidential candidates pressured Romney's campaign to release the documents.

On January 24, Romney's team released his 2010 tax return, as well as an estimate for 2011. Opponents quickly derided the disclosure as paltry, noting that other candidates, including Romney's father during his run for the GOP nomination in 1968, released a decade's worth of tax returns.

The forms the campaign did release showed Romney earned $42.7 million over the past two years and paid $6.2 million in taxes. Over the two years, Romney's effective tax rate - the percentage of his income that he owed in federal income taxes - was 14.5%.

Democrats, eager to align themselves with middle class voters, quickly assailed Romney for paying a low tax rate while earning millions of dollars.

On Thursday, Biden slammed Romney at a campaign stop in New Hampshire for promoting a "Romney Rule" on taxes that would benefit only millionaires like him – a harsh comparison to the "Buffett Rule" Democrats are promoting.

"The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do," Biden said Thursday. "The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut every year that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year."

Obama's 2010 tax return showed the president earned $1,728,096 and paid $453,770 in income taxes.

CNN's Jim Acosta and Paul Steinhauser and CNNMoney's Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Taxes
soundoff (390 Responses)
  1. A true american

    We need to go back to the days when there was just a flat sales tax and no income tax. That way if someone wants to buy $30,000 dollar clothing they can add $3,000 plus state sales tax. Hey look that would mean the 40% of Americans that don't pay tax would HAVE to Pay tax, even the illegals!

    April 14, 2012 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  2. Franky

    Incorrect, the spendathon was republican, and the deficit certainly the fault of previous administrations not Obama. This is a false GOP talking point that's easily verified, traditionally republiican administrations out spend democratic administrations. In the case of Obama he inherited a $1.2 trillion deficit, if you bothered to look at th cause of the deficit it's do to the following: 1) bush tax cuts price tag $4.5 trillion so far 2) Iraq and afghan wars cost $1.5 trillion 3) mm and ss cost more than $1 trillion per year now 4) recession reduced government intake to 14.8 percent of GDP verse nearly 17% for Bush and this is the reason for our deficit. Obamas only significant spending while in office was the 2nd stimulus cost $344 billion of which $244 billion went to the largest tax cut in us history the payroll tax cut which was also the largest tax cut geared towards middle class and small business in us history. The remainder of funds went cash for clunkers and auto bailout a signature success saving one of us strongest manufacturing sectors. GM went from bankrupt in 08, to the number 1 car manufacturer in the world again which it lost to Toyota nearly a decade again. Point know what you are talking about when it comes to spending as a whole plus what Obama has spent while in office.

    April 14, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  3. annoyed

    Youtube is as resourceful as wikipedia. Plenty of youtube videos out there that makes points in any direction.

    April 14, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  4. Orwell shrugs

    Saw picture of Mitt Romney's mouth open, but could figure out the lie he was speaking.

    Is he pitching in on Bella's new Xmas gun she needs? Cheap republican if he is not. Could be flip flopping on Bella' gun.

    As POTUS, get her a nuke next February you cheapskate. Every 1% child needs a nuke as a right of passage.

    April 14, 2012 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  5. The Greedy Old PIgs declared class war on US!

    "HOW about obama why won't he release his REAL birth certificate. His collage transcripts, His theases, and the foriegn person college loan he recieved its all sealed WHY WHAT IS HE HIDING?"

    This is a fine example of how low the GOBP cult has sunk, when it has no support among the centrists or rational people or people who know the difference between truth, lies and innuendo. Sadly, the GOBP been reduced to an intellectually and morally bankrupt cult appealing to racists, conspiracy theorists and low-information haters angry that we aren't living in the 1950s anymore. There is no hope for the GOBP if it relies on the likes of Jeff who manage to misunderstand, misinterpret and falsify facts all so the voices will makes sense. Birthbaggers like Jeff refuse to accept the reality that they are being screwed by the GOBP so they invent convoluted fantasies about getting screwed by a black President rather than admit the horror of the trutth. Their GOBP cult cares nothing at all about the Jeffs of the world and the other losers the GOBP caters to. The GOBP wants their votes, then the Jeffs will be ignored and tossed aside like the trash the GOBP sees them as. Wake up Jeff, you've been hypnotized.

    April 14, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  6. .

    What is it about liberal Democrats? They scream about fairness and making the rich pay taxes, yet big tax and spend libs like Charlie Rangel, Tom Daschle and Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner do everything they can to act like a "greedy Republican" when it comes to paying THEIR taxes.

    Liberalism is a mental disorder, but they're actually not that crazy when it comes to their OWN money.

    April 14, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  7. John

    Why don't Obama and Biden make a voluntary contribution to the treasury?

    April 14, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  8. mat

    I guess its news anytime anyone in the Obama administration pays their taxes. BTW the state dept sent a lot of his book as gifts this Christmas (thousands). Did he profit from this and if so is that legal to use gov money to purchase a product from yourself?

    April 14, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  9. Gurgyl

    Spendathon is by Bush two wars, idiot Reagan Trickle-down nonsense. Just learn varacity of fact.

    April 14, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  10. John in Va

    Both Obama and Biden are being overpaid for the work they do.

    April 14, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  11. GI Joe

    Two words - reptilicans -- IRAN-CONTRA. How's that for your GOD.

    April 14, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  12. Jean

    "Obama only paid 20% himself." I'm a tax accountant. People need to understand that the numbers used here show the percentage of TOTAL GROSS income represented by the taxes., not the percentage of TAXABLE income. Because we all get to deduct at least the standard deduction (if not a higher amount for itemized mortgage interest, state taxes, RE Taxes, contributions, etc) as well as personal exemptions for all of our family members, none of us pay our highest marginal rate on all of our income. 20% total on the gross income is a reasonably high rate. Romney's 14% isn't nearly as low as it sounds, either. Our tax code is designed so that the higher the income, the more deductions are available to reduce the TAXABLE income and the overall effective rate.

    April 14, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  13. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    Romney lies. For a man who wants to be potus and hides his money off shore tell me one thing. He is not american. Show me your birth papers. Etch a lie. Obama / biden 2012. The only trusted way forward.

    April 14, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. gg

    better hope mitt never goes to your town

    April 14, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. dnick47

    Repubs... your national moron GWB spent us into recession for several generations because he, like thee, is a OED definition of stupidity, ignorance, and duplicity – ie, GOP'er!!!!

    April 14, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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