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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mitt's Poverty Level Tax Rate

Nothing on Earth invites speculation from the punditry more than ignorance. Pundits get paid to do two things; to make predictions and to know things you don't. "I don't know" is probably written on some stone tablet of Forbidden Phrases somewhere. As a result, people take blind stabs at issues they couldn't possibly know anything about. One of those issues has been Mitt Romney's tax returns. Why was he reluctant to release them?

One of the blind stabs was that maybe Mittens didn't pay the required 10% tithe to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Score one for blind stabs -- he probably hasn't. "Mr. Romney reported $21.7 million in income [for 2010]," Wall Street Journal reports. "He paid $3 million in federal taxes, slightly more than the $2.98 million he made in charitable donations. At least $1.5 million of his charitable donations went to the Mormon Church." $21.7 million, $1.5 million tithe. You do the math. Mitt's shorting his church a bit.

But while that figure might get the attention of a certain Tabernacle in a certain Utah city, it's not what's drawing everyone else's. Our attention is drawn to the fact that Romney's tax bill adds up to somewhat less than even the absurdly low 15% estimate Romney gave in South Carolina. Specifically, 13.9%. You could argue that a little more than one percent difference amounts to splitting hairs, but when it's a percentage of a number like $21.7 million, we're talking about some pretty big and split-worthy hairs. It's the difference between the $3,016,300 Romney assumedly paid and $3,255,000 15% would've had him paying. You could feed and house a family on his rounding error.

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And there's the question of timing. Romney released the records -- for two years only -- after the debate in Florida last night. Not only did he make sure the numbers weren't an issue in the debate, but he clearly hoped the story would be buried by post-debate coverage. It hasn't been. At least, not as completely as Team Romney probably would've liked. Mittens is probably taxed at a lower rate than you are and this is something he'd really rather you didn't know.

Why? Because his own tax plan takes this disparity and just makes it worse.

Associated Press:

Republican Mitt Romney's tax plan would increase taxes on low-income families while cutting taxes for the middle-class and the rich, according to an independent study released Thursday.

On average, households making less than $20,000 would see their taxes increase by more than 60 percent, said the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group that studied the Romney plan.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 would get small tax cuts, averaging 2.2 percent, or about $250, the study said. People making more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging 15 percent, or about $146,000.

That 13.9% Mitt pays? It's too much. That's got to be shaved down a bit. And what the poor pay? Way too little. That's got to be bumped up a whole lot. Never mind that what Romney pays now is comparable to the rate a person at or near the poverty line might pay without deductions -- in his world, sound and fair tax policy has him paying less and the poor paying more. Like Gingrich's, Romney's contempt for people in poverty is palpable. He's just quieter about it.

And that contempt is odd. Generally when you wage class warfare like this, you don't do it against your own tax bracket. You'd think he'd feel more kinship with his fellow fifteen-percenters, many of whom are struggling along with food stamps.

-Wisco


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