X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs

Mitt Romney's Lose-Lose Tax Problem - Spectator Blogs

22 September 2012

11:04 AM

22 September 2012

11:04 AM

How rich is Mitt Romney? Wealthy enough to voluntarily pay $250,000 more tax than he needed to last year. That’s the most notable thing about the Romneys’ 2011 tax return released yesterday evening.

Mitt and Ann reported income of $13.7 million last year, most of it from investments. They gave $4 million to charity (most of it through the Mormon church) but “only” deducted $2.25 million of that sum from their taxable income. The reason for doing so is obvious: this ensured that Romney’s “effective” tax rate was around 14% of the couple’s income and not, as it might otherwise have been, a politically-embarrassingly low percentage.

This is, of course, all very noble. Or, if you prefer, cynical. But one can’t help but think that far from earning Mitt a slap on the back it actually draws attention to just how wealthy Romney is. When you can can give the federal government $250,000 more dollars than you really need to because doing so has a basically negligible impact on your wealth you’re pretty much in the hyper-rich class.

[Alt-Text]


And that’s fine! We all knew Romney is massively rich anyway and it seems churlish to hammer him for paying more than he needed to simply because doing so proved politically convenient this year.

Of course Romney was in a can’t-win situation. Manage his affairs in the most tax-efficient fashion and he’d be hammered for paying a lower effective tax rate than millions of ordinary, hard-working, members of the 53%. But manipulating his tax return to ensure he cleared a largely-meaningless, politics-inspired minimum threshold also only demonstrates how far he lives from Main Street.

Again, none of this is reprehensible and it’s hard to condemn a man who gives 30% of his income to charity (even in an election year). Moreover Romney’s record of charitable giving is longer and better than is generally appreciated. Often, as it should be, his philanthropy has been a private matter.

The mystery, really, is why Romney has not released this information before now. The optimal moment to do so, surely, was just after he had clinched the Republican nomination? Flushing all this out then would have avoided a summer of innuendo – much of it fuelled in characteristically shabby fashion by Senator Harry Reid – whispering that Romney paid no federal taxes at all.

As it is, Romney’s real problem is not the level of taxation he paid last year (or in the past) but the stubborn truth that his tax plans for the country benefit millionaires like himself rather more than they do the middle-class.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close