So writes Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post Online:
Another way of looking at it is that in 2011 the Romneys paid out 42 percent of their income in taxes and charity. Here’s how I got there: Total tax (line 60) + foreign taxes (line 47) + state taxes and real-estate taxes + other taxes (Schedule A, line 9) + charitable contributions (Schedule A, line 19) divided by Adjusted Gross Income (1040 line 37).
Let’s compare this percentage to that of average Americans. A 2009 Urban Institute study found: “The average charitable contribution per return filed in 2009 was about 2.0 percent of [adjusted gross] income.”
As for the effective marginal rate, Jim Pethokoukis writes: “While Romney’s tax rate is — in his own words — ‘probably closer to 15 percent than anything,’ that’s still higher than the 8.2 percent average effective income tax rate (as of 2010) of U.S. households (once you factor in various tax credits). Indeed, nearly half of U.S. households pay no income tax at all. Their average effective tax rate is actually negative. Even if you add in the payroll tax, the effective tax rate of the middle fifth of U.S. taxpayers is 12.8 percent.”
So, yes, Romney is much wealthier than most Americans. But he also gives away or pays in taxes in absolute and percentage terms far more than most Americans … in Romney’s case, the amount of his income given (or taken) away suggests that at least this particular wealthy American does more than his fair share for society.
I noticed last night that President Obama again repeated the warmed over tale that Warren Buffet pays less in taxes than his secretary. But we have yet to see Buffett’s tax return, or that of his secretary.
And to all those who are incensed that Romney pays an effective tax rate of 15% I give this challenge. First, tell us what percentage of his income is a “fair” amount of taxation. Yes, an actual number – 30% or 50% or 70% or whatever. Then using the data from Romney’s tax returns, outline a series of tax law changes that would result in Romney paying that new “fair” effective tax rate. It shouldn’t be hard; you have all the numbers you need to work with. Then, lobby HARD to get those changes through Congress and on President Obama’s desk. I mean, you’ll have lots of support from wealthy Congressional Democrats and billionaires, right?
Oh – and while you’re at it, why not explain whether or not drastic increases in Romney’s income taxes might affect his other charitable giving. Are you unhappy with the fact that Romney is now giving more to charity than he is paying in taxes? Would you be just as inclined to believe that “justice” was being done if Romney gave less in charitable contributions because his annual tax burden doubled or tripled?
Speaking of Congressional Democrats, it’s probably worth noting here (as others have done elsewhere) that between 1999 and 2008, as Mitt Romney was giving millions each year in tithes and other charitable donations, Vice President Biden was giving an average of $369 a year in charitable donations. No, that’s not a misprint.
For all the hoo-hah about Mitt Romney’s income level and effective tax rates, I have yet to see anyone challenge a single line of his return. Even with Swiss bank accounts and tax shelters in the Cayman Islands among his personal holdings, Romney seems to have followed the tax law to the letter. There really is nothing to see here folks, except a wealthy man who pays the taxes he is legally obligated to pay, and gives an impressive amount of money to charity each year.