January 24th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Romney tax release lights up debate on wealth inequality

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made $42.7 million over the past two years and paid $6.2 million in taxes, newly released documents show.

Romney and his wife, Ann, filed a joint 1040 reporting $21.7 million in 2010 income and $3 million in federal taxes. They also said their 2011 income was $21 million and tax bill was $3.2 million. Over the two years, Romney's effective tax rate - the percentage of his income that he owed in federal income taxes - was just under 14%.

Nevertheless, and contrary to popular perception, Romney's effective federal income tax rate is still above that of many Americans - 80% of whom have an effective rate below 15%. That tax rate is higher when other federal taxes - such as the payroll tax - are included.

And there's nothing that gets people revved up like peering into someone else's taxes to learn more about their wealth, especially when they're running for office. So you know that people were abuzz this morning trying to dissect it all, that is, if they could wrap their heads around it.

It appears Romney and his campaign knew that too, and expected the onslaught. If you did a search on Twitter for "Romney Taxes" "Romney Tax Returns" or "Romney" you saw an interesting promoted tweet, meaning someone paid for that tweet to show up at the top of the heap.

And judging by the tweet, Romney's camp must have thought, if people are going to be searching around, we ought to offer a message.

For the most part, the conversation online seemed more focused on what Romney's overall taxes show about America, rather than the candidate himself.

Rick Newman, the chief business correspondent for US News & World Report, tweeted a statistic that seemed to characterize what others were thinking.

[tweet https://twitter.com/rickjnewman/status/161820377935396866%5D

A majority of the comments we saw online showed that many folks, while they may have been a bit revolted by the mass amount of money Romney makes, found that more of the problem was our tax code or a major gap divide between the wealthy and middle class.

[tweet https://twitter.com/edwardvirtually/status/161824789172977665%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/marclamonthill/status/161820174784282624%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/marclamonthill/status/161821094037295104%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/NickKristof/status/161781523740229632%5D

Others bemoaned the general fact that Romney didn't have to pay more, considering what they pay, even if it is all part of the current rules.

[tweet https://twitter.com/Cephster/status/161824859045900289%5D

But others thought that there wasn't any massive damage done by Romney releasing his tax returns, because they showed he also gave money to those who needed it, and simply followed our current rules.

[tweet https://twitter.com/Toni_TWG/status/161824885176401922%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/jrawlinsisu/status/161823455078125569%5D

Some joked the release was well-timed because it came when people were paying more attention to Oscar nominations.

[tweet https://twitter.com/AndrewCDaniel/status/161823761753063426%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/joe_hill/status/161812094528913408%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/carlimck/status/161819689947901952%5D

But for others, there was also a continuing sentiment of wondering why we get all excited about these tax releases anyway.

[tweet https://twitter.com/g2slade/status/161815915418234881%5D

For some, knowing where the politics and money collide along the campaign trail was the more important monetary detail they'd prefer to learn.

[tweet https://twitter.com/betthearm/status/161812408099287040%5D

What do you think? Does it still matter that we see candidate tax returns? And if so, what is your reaction to Romney's release. Let us know in the comments below.

Post by:
Filed under: Economy • Mitt Romney • Politics • Twitter
soundoff (733 Responses)
  1. weeknow

    A Giant Crook ,STEAL from the POOR and GIVE to the rich ,,YOU LIAR WHERE'S THE JOBS??? " U" never will be my PRESIDENT! Pray to" GOD" that don't happen

    January 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • vincent

      the government cant supply jobs. its not possible. the free market provides jobs. but to provide jobs, the "rich" people need to invest money back into the economy. but they are not. why?

      pay attention here. the equation works like this: when you "invest" you should bear the risk of loss (losing your money) but you have the potential of gain (making more money and improving your lifestyle).

      but because of the threat of higher taxes on money earned, the equation is now: risk of loss (losing money) or having your gains taxed to the point that there is no possibility of motivating gain (if you make money the government takes that money, LOSS.)

      so it was risk vs gain, but now its risk vs tax loss. what person in their right mind would invest money when there is no potential gain, only guaranteed loss? (choices: risk loss or tax loss) the "rich" are choosing the "neither" option.

      so the government has forced (via higher taxes) the "rich" people to sit on the money already earned, (OUR POTENTIAL JOBS).

      LOWER TAXES (not the "rate", but actually lower the TOTAL taxes paid by the "rich") and the economy will BOOM.

      2 points to the above statements:

      1. "BOOM" is a relative term now. since we have no manufacturing in the country any more, the economy can only go so far. as a country we simply cant put all the people to work because we dont produce anything any more, and the "rich" only need so many services.

      KEY POINT: no government produces anything of value. they do offer some valuable services, but they actually PRODUCE nothing of value. since we have shipped all of our manufacturing over seas, america, as a country, now also produces nothing of value, so there really are not very many "jobs" that can be created in any situation.

      the government shipped our jobs over seas, so stealing more money from the people who earn ("the rich") it and giving it to people who dont earn it (the government) so they can ship more jobs over seas is a pretty stupid business plan for the american people.

      second point: why did the jobs go over seas (mostly china, but not exclusively china) (and mexico was in the mix as well for a short time until they got "tebowed" by china as well)? the government ALLOWED this to happen, but it was the american consumers that DEMANDED "the lowest price" (which is a synonym for "no profit" for business, but no profit means no jobs) which was best possible by tapping into chinas slave labor class. NO PROFIT = NO JOBS.

      and unfortunately because of the scope and TYPE of job losses, and the fact that extortionists (our federal government) never voluntarily stop stealing money from its victims, this is truly an unrecoverable situation.

      we can debate, blog, protest, vote or what ever, but its too late. "it is what it is" which means "we are what we are".

      significantly lowering taxes (in total, not "the tax rate") will create massive service jobs, but the manufacturing jobs can not be recovered. (its too expensive, people simply wont pay anything but "the lowest price", and americans are simply too lazy to work anymore. (not every american is lazy, but because we have been trained as a group to be lazy, ie expecting government handouts as every level, we are as a group lazy)

      government handouts: when you consider the military, the government, the prison population, people receiving food stamps, unemployment, ssi, earned income credit, government contracts, and people employed by state governments via federal programs or state taxes, well over half the people in this country are directly or indirectly employed by the federal government, we are obviously a socialist country by function.

      SOCIALISM: when more than 50% of a population directly or indirectly receive their income from the government.

      we were socialist long before obama became president, hes just the man to drive the final nail in the coffin.

      we are what we are, live with it.

      January 31, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. The Debate Moderators Should Ask...

    The debate moderators should ask the Republican candidates this question: "What is the mechanism by which lowering taxes on a C-Corporation will cause that business to *hire* more people?... and how, exactly, will reducing taxes on income from an S-Corporation cause a business owner to *hire* more people?" My personal experience is an extra dollar simply goes straight into the owners' pockets. If you believe this strategy will stimulate job creation, then you are a proponent of the discredited notion of trickle-down economics.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedom

      Apparently Obama believes tax credits and deductions for small businesses and clean tech companies will create jobs. See his State of the Union address. Maybe you're the one who doesn't understand economics?

      January 25, 2012 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      When one looks at Mitt as CEO destroying Jobs of working people while gutting the Companies he pretends to help. His Blood Money has zero blessing but Curses of the poor. That is not Capitalism.

      January 25, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. douglas

    I think, that if you want to stop making the rich rich and your selves (myself included) poor, then we need to stop giving our money willfully to the rich i.e. The walmarts. Shop local, small stores, stop spendings so much on consumables that aren't necesary to live. Simple as that.

    January 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedom

      How exactly are the poor responsible for making the rich wealthy? That's absurd. The rich are responsible for giving the poor jobs by taking risks with their money to start businesses. You have done nothing to make Mitt Romney rich.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      How many "new " JOBS have the filthy rich created? ZERO. They gamble on the stock market and when they lose the stupid taxpaying citizens through their corrupt Republican Congressmen/Senators provide the Bailout to the Rich. These greedy republicans than get their reward from the filthy crooked rich like the Krup/Crook Brothers who fund their re-election so their gravy boat is kept filled. Republican Welfare to the Rich. Nothing for the 99%.

      January 25, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Poor Guy

    I'm so sorry he didn't make that much, maybe he'll do better next year?

    January 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Freedom

    A few undisputed facts:

    1. Mitt Romney pays a higher effective rate than 80% of Americans.

    2. Mitt Romney pays way more in taxes than you do regardless of your effective rate.

    3. Mitt Romney gives way more to charity than you do (and for the anti-Mormon crowd, this statement is also true with respect to his charitable contributions to organizations other than the LDS Church).

    January 25, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • petey

      A huge undisputed fact romney has accounts he could have requested to invest in the us or made sure that's what the account did before investing, but he chose not to and chose to invest off shore, that's the biggest issue here.

      January 25, 2012 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Ethernet

      Petey, your so full of BS your eyes are brown. The real issue here is just exactly what Freedom just posted.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Havildar

      How Many Jobs did Mitts money CREATE in the USA??? ZERO. So much for a Mexican Republican he puts his money in the country of origin Not the USA.

      January 25, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. migeli

    How do the poor make the rich wealthy? Someone asked.We buy all crap thy sell us, made by the Chinese they hired at slave wages and we paid taxes on that stuff too.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ethernet

    He has paid 3Million in taxes!! Damnit, that more than i make in 25 years. Anyone that complains about that is full of it, and just wants a free hand out. How many of YOU have paid that much in taxes??? STFU and kwitchyerbtchen....

    January 25, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    Don't fault a man for being successful. Mit was no slouch living off his fathers wealth like some people he was a CEO and worked for his money. There will always be wealthy and poor even if you divide all the money. To make money if that is your goal you have to be better at something than the next guy, it is not about education, race, or where you came from but your motivation. Giving you something for being poor will always keep you poor. Forget about Mitt look at Pro Ball Players that came from the ghetto ask them what it takes to be number one. It's not sitting on your butt begging for or a handout but hard work, drive and motivation. Quit crying work and save yourself rich its not easy for anyone if it were we would all be millionaires.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Arod88

    Republicans suck perioud hows that for freedom of speech

    January 25, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Emelem

    Romney is rich. So what. So is NYC's Mayor Bloomberg.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. john appleton

    How many people work at Staples and other companies Romney "restructured" need food stamps because they can't live off minimum wage? Why didn't he and his shareholders just give them enough mmoney to feed themselves, instead of having the government take money from him to give back to those people. He'd make a great president...

    January 25, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike fromCalgary

    Why should Mitt "I like to fire people" pay his fair share or gift taxes on the $100M to his children. He is part of the Republican Establishment.
    And why shouldn't he send his money to the Mormon Church instead of paying the half the tax rate paid by working people. The workers are lucky that Mitt "love my Cayman Island sunttan" Romney hasn't fired them yet.

    And why should Bain Capital repay the loans ... when they can call the loan proceeds "fees" and ""dividends". So what if we don't use the loans to grow the business and default on loans and fire workers. What do you think bankruptcy laws are for?

    January 25, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike fromCalgary

    Romney just followed the "Get Rich with No Money Down Real Estate" formula.
    Buy company for inflated price with little or no money down, get inflated appraisal (where is country-wide when you need them), borrow the maximum, scoop out the loan proceeds – call it a profit and dump the indebted property to the bank or Freddie Mac. That formula for fraud destroyed the banking system and deprived operating companies of credit to grow, meet payroll or expand. That formula caused the crisis which Romney now says he wants to fix.
    I would rather see such fraud penalized, to see seizure of proceeds of such fraud upon the banks, creditors and the 35% taxpayers. Why should proceeds of crime be gifted tax free to the Mor on temple or of one's sons? They should be seized and returned to the creditors and banks and the culprits should be off to the Big House, not to the White House!

    January 25, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. dynax

    He made most of his money from investment. Investment is good for business and is promoted with lower tax rate. Investing is also much riskier than salary from a regular job.

    1) w/o private investors, business can’t expand. No more start-up
    2) Lower tax rate on investment means higher return in 401K, pension and lots of other investment
    3) Tax investment at the same salary income then your 401 tanks, your mortgage rate will go up

    I support lower tax on investment returns. Please keep in mind that the principle being invested already taxed once when earned the first time.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sam Roth

    I make $100k/yr and pay 28% in tax. He makes $21mil/yr and pays 14% in tax. Not right. Not fair. The Republican vision for America. Enjoy

    January 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
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