August 16th, 2012
01:18 PM ET
8 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. Obama - Ending the American Dream as We Know It

    Down the bayou
    WOW! How can I change my tax rate from close to 22% down to 13%. That will give me over $4,000/yr extra to help stimulate the economy and by default become a job creator.
    It is VERY easy! Everybody can do it. What you do is take all your money and give it to somebody that promises to pay you back. And then hope and pray that they are successful and do pay you back!

    See how easy it is!! Just ask all the old GM bond and shareholders that lost their shirts when Obama took over the company.

    August 16, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. wgf

    @Obama – Ending the American Dream as We Know It

    " Romney invests money which means he could LOSE all the money. Just ask all the GM bond and shareholders how that works."

    Yes, and the other side of that risk is a tremendous windfall. That's capitalism. It is not the purpose of the tax system is to add to the financial rewards of the capitalist system; The tax system is not a vehicle for mitigating risk for wealthy financial investors.

    August 16, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. wilnel1984

    And we're supposed to just trust you on this because....?

    August 16, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. n

    Now prove it Mitt, prove it . . . show us the hard copy1

    August 16, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Doc_Hollywood

    Is this "13%" just federal taxes? Or a combination of state and federal taxes? And if it's the latter, then why hide it? If you say it's x amount, showing it won't be any different than saying it. No, something just still smells fishy.

    August 16, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. wilnel1984

    You know, considering how much Mitt has flipped-flopped on just about every issue, we are supposed to trust on this because....?

    August 16, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. BLKMANinAmerica

    Lawd please tell me none of these repuks think for 1 HOT second that paying 13%+ in taxes is good. It's NOT at all since I pay about 35%, work for a living on a JOB, and helped pay for my son's college education from a private college. 13% is a JOKE and if he's not telling more LIES why on earth wont he show us the 10 years of taxes that he paid? Romney is full of LIES and GAMES.

    August 16, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. bb

    There is no way in hell Romney has been paying his fair share of taxes with 100 hundred million dollars in a tax deferred IRA that has a maximum annual contribution limit of six thousand dollars!

    August 16, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    I'm wililng to bet he's not talking about his overall effective tax rate. Of course, we're not meant to know that. He's just throwing red meat at the GOP/Teatroll base and, for some idiot reason, making the mistake of resurrecting this issue.

    August 16, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Doug

    Um... 13% is very low, and he is probably not counting his "capital gains" as income. Most people pay around 25%. Face it people, our tax system is rigged to benefit the filthy rich at the expense of everyone else.

    August 16, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. pandathumb

    Well, Mitt's word is good enough for me.

    August 16, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. jimbuck

    lets see obama's tax returns for the last 10 years!

    August 16, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Now you know why the middle working class is ticked off at the rich. By the time the middle class gets done with Federal, state, local, social security, property tax, sales tax, paying part of their hospitalization. They don't have much left. The welfare and SSI people are just as bad not working, and getting every thing free, food, housing, help paying their utilities. This country needs a flat tax with no deductions and no write-offs. All income is taxed no matter how you earn the money.

    August 16, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Mary

    Well..of course he's paid more than 13%. Sales, property taxes. I hope he's paying payroll taxes for his servants. I'm curious to which country is yacht is registered. I hear Bermuda is cheap.

    August 16, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. Tara

    I really didn't care about this tax return mess until Romney made such a big deal out of refusing to release any more returns. His refusal makes it seem as though he has something to hide. If he doesn't release more soon it will really hurt him in the elections. We no longer take our politicians at their word without evidence.

    August 16, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. zeb

    Let's look at some things that Gov. Romney has said over the past year or so:

    1. He earned "not too much" in speaking fees – around $350,000. I don' t understand how that translates to 13% in taxes. If I were making $350,000 I would be in the top bracket.

    2. The total dollar amount he pays in taxes is not the issue – it's a red herring. His tax rate *is* the issue. The reason we have a progressive tax rate structure is to ensure that those who make more money pay a higher effective rate than those who make less money.

    3. Gov. Romney himself said that even if one had a blind trust, one could control the specific investments made..... and how does a blind trust square with having Swiss bank accounts and other offshore accounts?

    August 16, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. NotFooledByDistractions

    And we're just supposed to take romney's word for it? After months of blatant lies and distortions by mr. romney, his word isn't worth much. Show us the paper mr. romney. Trust but verify, right?

    August 16, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Just ask all the old GM bond and shareholders that lost their shirts when Obama took over the company."

    Their shirts were already on fire, numbnuts. They weren't leaving that situation with them intact no matter what anyone did. Fact is, they got just about the best they could get out of the situation and ONLY because Obama stepped in.

    August 16, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |

    Here's the thing. Why does he keep filing extensions? He said before that he likes to fire people he employs that are not performing well. Why not fire his accountant? It's taking him 3/4 of a year to prepare his taxes? Ladies and gentleman, here is another kicker. Romney's accountant is his ATTORNEY! Now tell me why a man with an M.B.A. from HARVARD can't do his own taxes? Tell me why that same man who ran a financial equity firm can't do his own taxes? HE'S HIDING SOMETHING THAT'S WHY. Romney will not release more than than 2010 year of tax returns because it will show that he paid little to NO taxes. Plus, when congress started craking down on people that were skirting the tax laws by hiding their money overseas and not reporting that as income, congress made that act criminal. Now by bringing that money back or simply reporting what was overseas, some avoided criminal charges by abiding by the amnesty that was given by congress. YES an AMNESTY was given to those that hid money offshore. Romney was 1 of the ones that took advantage of the amnesty. He CAN'T disclose that for years he was breaking the law and still expect to win the presidency. Plus, those taxes will show that the Romneys LIED when they said that they gave 10% of their income to charity. They gave 3 million a year to the Morman church, that may be true, but if you make 45 million and give away 3 million, that my friend is NOT 10%. Now even if he made 45 million and gave away 3 million, guess what? HE GOT TO WRITE OFF 3 MILLION DOLLARS!
    Actually bringing his tax burdens DOWN. Now coupled with this so called "investment" income opposed to the "earned" income, which he was taxed at a lower rate plus the donations, he was taxed way less than a person making 20k a year. Another thing, they don't want people to know that the Mormon church is the only charity they give to.

    August 16, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. cmcle

    13% of what? That has become the more interesting question. I've paid more than 13% over the past several years on a relatively modest 5-figure income. No doubt Romney has more credits and deductions than I do. But maybe he pays less than so many of us because so much of his income is sheltered - elsewhere? (Swiss banks, Cayman Islands, etc.)

    August 16, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Maxx

    This isn't going well for Mitt.

    August 16, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. LOL

    @Greg in Denver, Kevin C, and many more of you.....if you new anything about finances and taxes, you would now that a "tax rate" is the OVERALL rate you paid on your gross taxes!!!!!! Sericouly, do some research or know what you are talking about before asking ignorant questions! That mean he probably paided 25% on a portion of his income but it averages out to be a "tax rate" of 13% of his overall income!! Seriously, get a clue.

    August 16, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Me

    @ sniffit....yep blame is on something or someone else as always!! LOL

    August 16, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. Stetson

    By the way everyone that thinks Mitt doesn't pay enough in taxes, do you realize that 13% of his income is 2.86 Million dollars per year? Do you know how stupid you sound when you act like that is not enough? In my line of work I look at other peoples tax returns all day every day and the only reason a Fire Fighter or Police officer or Nurse would pay 25% alec is if they don't ever buy a home or donate to charity. Do you all think Mitt wrote the IRS tax code? When his accounting firm is done with his taxes and they say you owe 13% this year do you think he should say oh no that is not enough I want to pay more. Or do you think he should trust his firm who follows the tax code to the T and then if he wants to give more, he can give that to any non-profit organization he chooses? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon church) is second only to the Red Cross in financial and humanitarian assistance through out the world. So I would say his charitable donations are being put to good use.

    August 16, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. NoLongerRepublican

    Just yesterday Ann was re-iterating that releasing more returns is going to give the dems more ammunition. So she is admitting that there are incriminating details details in those returns. Does anyone else think that her facial expression is always like she thinks she is better than whoever she is talking to? Kinda like she is smelling poooo. Just Sayin....

    August 16, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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