August 16th, 2012
01:18 PM ET
9 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. rla

    Trust Romney but believe the spittle that comes from Chicago Obama??? You bet – Romney has a background of honesty ! all one needs to do is compare what Obama said in 08 with what happened over four years

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

    Harry Reid said "A 10 year period," not the last 10 years. Also– Charity = Your Mormon church. That doesn't count as tax. You cannot justify paying just 13% by coupling that with a 10% REQUIRED donation to your Mormon church.

    August 16, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Down the bayou

    Josh – "I love how most of you say you pay 25%."
    Glad you got your rate down to 8%. According to Turbotax, from my 2011 return, my effective tax rate was 21.7%. Again, I could sure use an extra $4000/yr in my pocket by paying 13%

    August 16, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Lionel

    Just show us the damm returns so that we can start trusting you for once.

    August 16, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Hey, Mittens got anymore of those 100K jobs at Bain for doing nothing? 'Call Me, Maybe?'

    Stephanie Cutter called Romey a FELON on world TV & Web based on "What ifs"

    FYI: Lying to the SEC IS a felony, there are signed documents with the SEC that was signed by Robme stating he was the sole owner of Bain in that year. So, show us the return for 2002 and if you were not paid 100K for that year, then he has some 'esplain' to do SEC but not the American electorate, however, if he was paid 100K in 2002, then he is cool with the SEC, but then he has some 'esplain' to do to the American electorate, 'cuz he told "you people" he was not running BANE in 2002.

    Catch 22, he lied to somebody, and one does make him a felon and one does not make him the country's "top dog"!

    August 16, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "I want to know how he got $100 Million in an IRA. At $5000/year Maximum, it would take 20,000 years. I want to see how he did THAT.
    I don't know how he did it. But one thing is for certain, your numbers don't take growth into consideration. Let me provide you with an example. As you know, IRAs have many ways of investing your contributions. Classic example is the initial investors in Microsoft... if you had invested $10K in Microsoft in 1980, you'd be a millionaire MANY MANY times over right now. I know it's mighty temptimg for someone who despises anything republican to accept... but it can happen."

    Actually, the methods he used most likely entail creating a foreign corporation to do his investment funding and, throuh that sheltering, massive avoidance of the Unrelated Business Income Tax...not to mention severely questionable valuation of stocks in that or other corporations at nominal values that didn't really reflect their fair market value. It could also have involved doing the same silly dance of valuing his stacks in Bain at nominal values so they would balloon only after he hid them in the IRA. Please, more ready, less pretendy.

    August 16, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. james - St. Paul, MN

    While it would be remarkably easy to prove his point, Romney continues to intentionally confuse and obfuscate. His disrespect for the American voter / taxpayer is unbelievable.

    August 16, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Lenny Pincus

    Note the absence of the tern "income taxes". Both Mitt and Ann studiously avoid it.

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

    What does this mean: "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%." Is charity a tax, a burden, or an act of compassion? And doesn't charitable contribution reduce the tax? So how charity increases tax rate? We have had a prez who didn't know English. Do we need a prez who does not know math and law?

    August 16, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. judith

    Who is going to believe a compulsive liar. Queen Ann goes on NBC and says they won't be giving the Democrats "more ammunition" by releasing their returns? This privileged, sneering, arrogant couple should be sent packing to one of their mansions and never be given the keys to the White House.

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

    @Anonymous....1000% agreed!!! THAT is the only "FAIR" way if you want to talk about fair share etc!

    August 16, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Fair is Fair

    13% of a very large number is a very large number. Probably more in one year than most of us pay in a lifetime. So easy to demonize success, though,

    August 16, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Chris

    Welcome to 2008, Obama released 8 years worth of taxes. PROVE IT MITT. If you are so confident in your taxes continue what your FATHER started over 50 years ago or, as you put it, "put up or shut up". You know its a double-edged sword. If you dont, voters cant trust you given your (already) horrendous track record. And if you do, you know something will be found. Whether legal or not, people will clearly see how many loopholes are in our tax code that you enjoy using.

    August 16, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Ron

    This just goes to prove that the rich don't pay as much tax as the middle class, and mitt and mindys plan to reduce taxes for the rich is just a hoax.

    August 16, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. LouAZ

    Ya know . . . the first liar hasn't got a chance in this BS contest.

    August 16, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. RPE

    Who the bleep cares about his tax rate? He has oodles more experience leading business ventures in his life time and that is what we need in the white house. A business friendly president who does not create such crazy division among the US population. A good guy who does not believe in demonizing for the sake of his job. Obama can only win if you are convinced he is a good manager, but Romney has the facts to back up his success. And Biden compared to Ryan? A complete jok! Biden could not lead a party of ants with honey on his shoes. Fix the economy, fix the debt and life will be good. Obama has no intention of doing either, only plans ot achieve his agenda which has nothing to do with fixing the economy or reducing the debt.

    August 16, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Nan

    He paid 13% in "taxes", which kind of taxes? C'mon Mitt, cough it up. What's in there that you are afraid of? Me thinks it's something real juicy that you don't want to show us. Sorry, don't trust this guy for one second.

    August 16, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. don

    Mitt can pay more than 13% and less than 13% at the same time. Thants what a great business man he is!!!!! It's the same way he can be pro health care law and anti health care law. Pro choice and pro life. Pro assult weapon ban and pro 2nd. amendment. Pro up and pro down. Its great not having any principles it makes politics so much easier.

    August 16, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. First

    Romney said Obama will do and/or say anything to keep his power. I ask what wont the G.O.P, Tea-Party, Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, NSM & the Council of Conservative Citizens do to take our Country back. If it's even safe to say our Country. The G.overnment O.pposition P.arty say they want their Country back. Even if it mean letting Romney off the hook for tax evasion and tax fraud with Marriot Board of Directors.

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

    My family makes about 120k a year, and we have two kids. Even after deductions, why do we pay a higher tax rate than Romney? What is so privileged about capital gains and dividends that they should be taxed lower than the money my family works for? Why should someone living off a trust fund, sailing and playing golf all day, be taxed at 15% while those of us who put in 50 hours a week in middle class jobs pay a higher rate? In all this babble about taxes, I still haven't heard one good argument in favor of protecting Romney level rates of 13%-15% for "money making money", when I pay 23% working for money.

    August 16, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. bb

    Romney made the comment that anyone wanting to see his tax returns is "small minded" during his stomp speech in South Carolina.

    August 16, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. JasonP

    Romney did NOT say "income taxes" CNN. YOU put those words in his mouth!!

    August 16, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Yoshi Togukawa

    I truly wonder how this candidate can be taken seriously. 13.6% or something like that. Doesn`t he remember, after looking at his taxes? The fact that he paid that little, means he probably used all the loopholes allowed to his class but not to the Middle Class. And Americans are even considering voting for him? Just how did we get to the Moon?

    August 16, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. Commentary42

    Um hum, I'll buy that. It will go nicely with the Brooklyn Bridge I just purchased.

    August 16, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. tkret

    Someone 'tells' Harry Reid that Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years. That has morphed into Romney has not paid taxes. If he hadn't paid taxes in 10 years, the IRS would have been on top of it a long time ago. (It's not like Romney is your everyday tax payer).
    If you were interviewing for a job and didn't get it because someone (in your background investigation) said something detrimental about you, wouldn't you want to know who the person was? Especially considering the statement was not true and you deserved the job you did not get.
    At the same time it is OK that barack obama has his college records sealed and no one wants to see them. Hmmmmm....

    August 16, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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