Romney’s tax return comedy

How the candidate "disqualified" himself from the presidency by manipulating his deductions

Topics: Mitt Romney, Taxes, 47 percent, Romney's tax return,

Romney's tax return comedy (Credit: Reuters/Jim Young/Salon/Benjamin Wheelock)

A week that began for Romney with the release of the infamous 47 percent video is ending with the release of his 2011 tax return. Unfortunately for Romney, the details we have learned so far from the return only serve to reinforce the negative fallout from the “secret video.”

We’ll be poring over the actual returns soon, but an initial release from the Romney campaign has already told us a couple of amusing things.

First, Mitt and Ann Romney donated a whole heck of a lot of money to charity in 2011 — $4,020,772, to be exact, or about 30 percent of their total income. But they chose only to claim $2.25 million of that total as charitable deductions, because, well, otherwise their overall tax burden would have been a little, shall we say, light.

From the campaign:

The Romneys’ generous charitable donations in 2011 would have significantly reduced their tax obligation for the year. The Romneys thus limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor’s statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13% in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.

Without claiming the total legally possible deduction, Romney ended up paying an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. If he’d claimed everything he had a right to, he would only have paid around 12.1 percent.

There’s something both hilarious and pathetic about a presidential candidate manipulating his deductions so he ends up paying what he considers a more politically appropriate tax rate. But it’s especially ludicrous in light of Romney’s numerous claims that he’s always paid the government exactly what he owes, “and not a dollar more,” implying that anyone who voluntarily gave the government more than he legally owed was either a fool or a moron.

Romney is even on record declaring that the act of paying more than he owed would mean he shouldn’t be eligible for the presidency!



From time to time I’ve been audited, as happens, I think ,to other citizens as well, and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due. 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. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

So! A change in tune. A flip-flop, even.

But the true puzzler is why Romney would imagine that artificially boosting his tax rate to 14.1 percent would help him with any voter who isn’t already outraged at how low Romney’s tax burden is. As has been pointed out numerous times this week, the average worker’s payroll tax rate equals 15.3 percent of their income. So even with the jiggering, Romney paid a smaller percentage of his income as taxes than many members of the 47 percent he trashed in his Boca Raton, Fla., speech to fundraisers.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>