For months, the Republican presidential nominee's reluctance to reveal more of his tax records has been one of the central themes running through this U.S. election. The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Mitt Romney of avoiding the payment of taxes for a decade, and even his fellow Republicans have called on him to release his tax returns and put the issue to rest. After all, it has been reasoned, the American public has the right to know their presidential candidates, and the management of one's personal finances is no small part of the package, especially for a politician focused on the economy.
On Friday, the former Governor of Massachusetts finally revealed the tax returns for a second year – 2011. During that year, Romney earned $13.7 million, mostly in capital gains, on this income he paid $1.94 million, which corresponds to 14.1% in federal income tax.
A section in the document released that received special notice in American media outlets was the fact that in 2011 the Romneys donated about 30% of their income to charity, which lowered their tax rate. These donations included over $1 million in cash to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially known as the Mormon Church) and over $200,000 to a foundation that helps families with children suffering from epilepsy.
Former presidential candidate John McCain said in a statement that "now that the most recent tax return has been released, it’s time to get back to discussing the issues that voters care about." Still, at least for a while, Romney's tax returns are likely to remain the topic of kitchen table chatter across the U.S., since more than a few Americans would have liked to pay the same tax rate as him. This presumably includes his running mate Paul Ryan, who paid 20 percent of his $323,416 income in federal taxes. This isn't the case for those 47 percent, who, according to Romney, don't pay taxes at all, and, therefore, are not likely to vote for him anyway.
Romney's opponent, President Barack Obama, didn't focus on Romney's tax rate, but he certainly has no intention of letting up on the 47 percent mentioned by Romney in a recently resurfaced video secretly recorded in May at a Florida fundraiser.
At a campaign event in Woodbridge, Virginia, Obama again accused his rival of favoring the rich: "Mr. Romney thinks that if we just spend another $5 trillion dollars on tax cuts that favor the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, all our problems are going to solved. Jobs and prosperity will rain down from the sky. Deficits will magically disappear. We will all live happily ever after. The end," Obama said sarcastically.
"There’s only one problem. We tried that scheme during the last decade. It didn’t work. Top-down economics don’t work. This country doesn’t succeed when only the rich are getting richer. I don’t believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who think that they’re not interested in taking responsibility for their own lives...The values we believe in don’t just belong to workers or businesses, the 53 percent or the 47 percent, the rich or the poor, the 1 percent, the 99 percent - these are American values. They belong to all of us."
Past week's polls show Obama leading with 4 points on average.
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