“…But I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m 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’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.” — Mitt Romney
First of all, even if our tax code allows the definition, since when is REQUIRED TITHING to your church the same as contributing to “charity”? Particularly when the Mormon Church rakes in $7 BILLION A YEAR from “charitable contributions” (aka: required tithing) and uses part of those contributions to build shopping malls and to fund political campaigns. Also, why am I paying at least twice as much in federal taxes on my paltry income than Romney is — a guy who’s worth a quarter billion dollars? And Team Romney-Ryan want to implement more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, so they’ll pay even less while we’ll pay even more. Does that plan sound good to you?
Some reactions to Romney’s remarks:
Ezra Klein: “To which the obvious answer is: Well, then, why won’t you prove it?“
Andrew Sullivan: “Romney refusing to release his returns isn’t a sign of strength. It’s a sign of stupidity.”
The Wire creator David Simon marvels at Romney’s nerve in “declaiming proudly” that he paid at least 13% taxes every year: “Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations? Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college…. I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly: Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent. I swear. And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail. But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits. I’m just not that kind of guy.”
Rod Dreher piles on: “What Simon is getting at is Romney is an extremely rich man who pays significantly less of a percentage of his income in taxes than millions of people who make far less than he does, and he still seems to think he deserves a cookie. I’m sick and tired of him and his wife whining about how people are so mean to them about their taxes.”
Robert Reich: “Since when are charitable contributions added to income taxes when judging whether someone has paid his fair share? More to the point, Romney admits to an income of over $20 million a year for the last several decades. Which makes his 13 percent — or even 20 percent — violate the principle of equal sacrifice that lies at the core of our notion of tax fairness.
“Even Adam Smith, the 18th century guru of free-market conservatives, saw the wisdom of a graduated tax embodying the principle of equal sacrifice. “The rich should contribute to the public expense,” he wrote, “not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion.”
“Equal sacrifice means that in paying taxes people ought to feel about the same degree of pain regardless of whether they’re wealthy or poor. Logically, this means someone earning $20 million a year should pay a much larger proportion of his income in taxes than someone earning $200,000, who in turn should pay a larger proportion than someone earning $50,000.
“But Romney’s alleged 13 percent tax rate is lower than that of most middle class Americans who earn a tiny fraction of what he earns.
“At a time when poverty is increasing, when public parks and public libraries are being closed and when public schools are shrinking their offerings and their hours, when the nation’s debt is immense, and when the 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together — Romney’s 13 percent is shameful.”