Bombshell or firecracker pop: Romney's 2011 tax returns show he's in top 1%

Do Romney's tax returns show why he can't connect with the average voter? Photo: Republican presidential nominee MItt Romney boards his campaign plane at sunset AP

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2012 — Following that old bit of Washington wisdom, “Only release bad news on a Friday,” Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney did just that, releasing his 2011 tax returns (finally!) on his website along with a letter and summary from the Romney’s tax preparer PricewaterhouseCooper and from Brad Malt, the trustee of Romney’s blind trust.

The 2011 tax return shows that Romney and his wife earned $13,696,951 last year, paying $1,935,708 in taxes or 14.1%, which puts the Romneys in the top 1%. He pays at a lower tax rate than most Americans do at tax time because most of his income comes from capital gains and that type of income is taxed at a lower rate than are the average taxpayers’ wages.

The question then becomes is this why Romney can’t connect with the average voter, much less the 47%?

The PricewaterhouseCooper report’s summary shows that the Romneys paid an average annual effective federal tax rate of 20.2% during the last 20 years, with the lowest rate paid being 13.6%, thus supporting Romney’s claim that he has always paid at least 13% each year. Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had insisted this past summer that there were some years when Romney paid no taxes.

President Obama disembarks from Marine One AP

While the summary belies that assertion, it is also possible that since the summary is only an average and not a breakdown of each year’s actual taxes, there is no way of knowing for sure if Sen. Reid is right or wrong.

During those 20 years, the report goes on to say, the Romneys gave an average of 13.35% of their adjusted income to charity, primarily to the Mormon Church. Currently the Romneys’ net worth is estimated to be between $190 to $250 million.

The 2011 and 2010 tax returns for the Romneys and GOP Vice-President candidate Paul Ryan as well as the full PricewaterhouseCooper report can be read at the Mitt Romney for President website at

The one thing the summary avoids is any details about Romney’s offshore or Swiss bank accounts. The Obama campaign has questioned why the summary is not more complete, “demanding answers to whether Romney paid foreign income taxes, owned a shell corporation in Bermuda, and continued to receive income from Bain Capital.”

President Obama and his wife Michelle earned $790,000 in 2011 and paid $162,000 in total taxes or 20.5%. They gave $172,000 to charity or 22% of their income.

For a look at the 12 years of tax returns of President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden, go to

Other Democrats are pointing to the fact that Romney’s taxes show why there should be a Buffet Rule (named for billionaire Warren Buffet who has repeatedly stressed that the wealthy should not be paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries). The Buffett Rule is a simple principle that all Americans should pay their fair share in taxes. No household making more than a $1 million should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle-class families pay.

The average middle class American family, which is taxed on wages earned, is taxed in the 25% bracket, but with deductions, such as for home mortgages, their tax rate can be as low as 17%.

By releasing the tax returns and summary late Friday, the Romney campaign wisely hopes to contain any fallout, so taxes becomes a non-story by Monday. Coming after another disastrous week for the Romney campaign, it was probably a good idea to release the returns and summary now, getting the issue out of the way. Most Americans don’t pay much attention to news that happens on Fridays, looking forward instead to the weekend with their families and friends.

Romney may be right. After all the tax returns had to be released sometime before Election Day and this might be as good a time as any.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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