By Teresa Welsh |
Last Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shared his tax returns from 2010 and the estimates for what he will pay for 2011 with the media and the public. In 2010, he reported earning $21.7 million in income and paying $3 million in federal taxes, a rate of about 14 percent. The estimates for 2011 show him earning about $20.9 million in income and paying $3.2 million, a rate of about 15.4 percent. Romney campaign officials emphasized that the presidential candidate was paying all the taxes he was legally obligated to.
He and his wife, Ann, also reported donating about $7 million to charity over the same two years, mostly to the Mormon church, which totals more than they paid in federal taxes.
And while the top marginal rate for salaries is 35 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center the average effective rate paid by the wealthiest 1 percent of American taxpayers is 18.5 percent--still higher than what Romney pays. According to their own releases for 2010, President Barack Obama paid a 26 percent federal tax rate and GOP rival and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich paid 31.6 percent.
“I will not apologize for my success,” Romney said regarding his tax rate.
Some, most notably Warren Buffett, argue that multimillionaires like Romney should pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes, regardless of whether or not that income is the result of capital gains. Others contend that people like Mitt Romney should be rewarded for their success and that taxing top earners would cause a drag on the economy.
Should Mitt Romney pay more in taxes? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
Daniel Hanson Economics Researcher at the American Enterprise Institute
Vishnu Sridharan Program Associate with the Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation