A commenter, who happens to be a conservative Joplin Globe blogger, has been all up in my grill about how much more Mitt Romney has paid in taxes and charity against what Barack Obama has paid (forgetting that they both have wives).
His first comment included this:
I just “heard” that President Obama gave 1% of his income to charities last year. True or false, I do not know. Do you?
After I proved that assertion false, he wrote,
The internet is now filled with tax comparisons between Obama and Romney. Total taxes and charitable contributions for Romney in 2011 is estimated to be 42% of his income…
Cut it however you want to do so in terms of total dollars or percent of taxable income. The differences between the two families is STARK, in my view. Note that Obama’s income before he became famous was around $200,000 per year (2000 through 2004). Wonder how a community organizer made that kind of money????
Now, forget for a moment the implication that a mere “community organizer” might have come by his money (which is chump change to Mitt Romney) in, uh, shall we say, ways other than working for it. Let’s look at the other assertion, which he repeated in a subsequent comment:
Romney has paid, as a percentage of income or total dollars in taxes and charitable giving than Obama, far more in either case. His 2011 estimate of all taxation and charitable giving is 42% of his taxable income.
So who has “given more for his country”, Romney or Obama?
The suggestion is clear. Democrats, especially the uppity Obama, are hypocrites. They want to take rich people’s money and don’t sacrifice themselves.
Well, I did some searching and I discovered that this claim has made the right-wing Internet rounds and the originator seems to have been none other than Jennifer Rubin, a right-wing columnist for The Washington Post (the piece was titled, “Romney paid 42 percent of 2011 income in taxes and charity“).
Here’s what she wrote:
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).
I thought I would follow her formula (even though line 47 is a tax credit for paying foreign taxes) and check out her claim. Romney’s 2011 estimated return showed:
1040 Line 60 (total tax; it’s actually line 61 on the 2011 form): $3,226,623
1040 Line 47 (the tax credit for foreign taxes paid): $0
Schedule A Line 9 (state, local, and other taxes): $1,549,596
Schedule A Line 19 (charitable gifts): $4,020,572
Now, let’s follow her formula so far: $3,226,623 + 0 + $1,549,596 +$4,020,572 = $8,796,791
Her next step was to divide that number by 1040 Line 37 (Adjusted Gross Income), which Romney estimates as: $20,901,075. So, we have:
Romney’s charitable giving and taxes paid ÷ Adjusted Gross Income 2011 (estimated)
$8,796,791 ÷ $20,901,075 = 42%
So far, so good, right? She’s correct using her formula for 2011. But the comparison was to President Obama, remember? Here’s what the Globe blogger wrote and what the right-wing blogosphere is pushing:
Romney has paid, as a percentage of income or total dollars in taxes and charitable giving than Obama, far more in either case.
So, since they want to compare Romney and Obama, let’s do so. But we will have to use 2010 returns, since those are the most recent ones we have for both of them.
Let’s start with Romney’s 2010 tax return numbers and again apply Jennifer Rubin’s formula:
1040 Line 60 (total tax): $3,009,766
1040 Line 47 (foreign tax credit): $129,697
Schedule A Line 9 (state, local, and other taxes): $898,946
Schedule A Line 19 (charitable gifts): $2,983,974
Thus, $3,009,766 + $129,697 + $898,946 + $2,983,974= $7,022,383
The final step: divide by 1040 Line 37: $21,646,507. So, we have:
Romney’s charitable giving and taxes paid ÷ Adjusted Gross Income 2010
$7,022,383 ÷ $21,646,507= 32.4%
Wow! Only 32.4%? When Mitt wasn’t in campaign mode, his percentage dropped off, didn’t it?
But how does that compare to Obama? Let’s use the Rubin formula on his 2010 tax return:
1040 Line 60 (total tax): $453,770
1040 Line 47 (foreign tax credit): $22,215
Schedule A Line 9 (state, local, and other taxes): $78,269
Schedule A Line 19 (charitable gifts): $245,075
Thus, $453,770 + $22,215 + $$78,269 + $245,075= $799,329
The final step: divide by 1040 Line 37: $1,728,096. So, we have:
Obama’s charitable giving and taxes paid ÷ Adjusted Gross Income 2010
$799,329 ÷ $1,728,096= 46.2%
Huh? 46.2%? You mean Obama, in terms of the percentage of income he paid in taxes and gave to charity, outdid Romney by 30% (13.8 points) in 2010? Yep, that’s right. And even taking Romney’s higher 2011 number, which conservatives were trying to rub in Democratic faces, Obama outperformed Romney by 9% (4.2 points)!
Damn, that Obama is one slick community organizer. How’d he do that?