Mitt Romney has stumbled again. Although he finally released his 2011 income tax returns, the numbers tell a very big tale. By claiming $2.25 of the $4 million he donated to charities, he ended up raising the tax rate he would have otherwise paid to 14.1 percent. If they Romneys had claimed all of the charitable contributions, they would have paid 10.55 percent and lowered their taxes paid by $467,000, according to Rebecca Wilkins. Wilkins is a tax lawyer with the Citizens for Tax Justice. Romney also has the option to amend his 2011 tax returns at any time in the next three years to take advantage of the deductions he did not claim.
Although this ploy was intended to convince Americans that he is paying a higher tax rate, it actually causes the opposite effect by providing evidence that he manipulated the numbers to make his tax situation look even better by showing a higher tax rate than he would have actually paid if his returns were not under such scrutiny. The returns show that the Romneys paid $1,935,708 in income taxes on their annual income of $13,696,951.
"The information released today reveals that Mitt Romney manipulated one of the only two years of tax returns he's seen fit to show the American people - and then only to 'conform' with his public statements. That raises the question: What else in those returns has Romney manipulated?" questioned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
As Romney refuses to release his older tax returns, rumors and imaginations run wild. Is he hiding his earnings from his church? The Mormon Church requires a 10-percent tithe from its members. Could he be hiding all of the ways the ultra-wealthy are able to use tax loopholes and pay very low tax rates? By using a combination of loopholes and deductions, the ultra-wealthy pay significantly low tax rates. We all remember seeing statements made by Warren Buffet saying that his secretary paid a higher tax rate on her income than he paid. This led to what is now known as The Buffet Rule. The White House reports, “A full 22,000 households that made more than $1 million in 2009 paid less than 15 percent of their income in income taxes — and 1,470 managed to pay no federal income taxes on their million-plus-dollar incomes, according to the IRS.”
Although Romney claims he has never paid below 13 percent, he still refuses to release his tax returns prior to 2010. This leaves Americans wondering what he actually paid and what he is hiding. The irony of his refusal to release those records is that it was actually his father, George Romney, who was the person that initiated the practice of presidential candidates releasing 12 years of tax returns back in 1967. His intentions were made clear when he stated that anyone that would refuse to release their tax returns would have the appearance of having something to hide. It appears that his son did not get that message.
The image of the tax advantages to the richest Americans is becoming clearer to the American middle class. It seems that at every turn, Romney is reinforcing this reality to voters. It is time for Americans to decide what kind of future they want for their children and grandchildren. Casting a vote for Romney represents supporting the idea of an elite class that exists in America.
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