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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Do Mitt Romney's Tax Returns Have To Do With Anything?

Yes, that is the question. We ask:

- What do his tax returns have to do with anything?
- Who cares what effective tax rate he pays?
- Is that the most important qualification to be president?
- Are people really going to say, "you know, I was going to vote for him if he paid 30%, but since he pays only 15%, I'm voting for somebody else?"
- Is this REALLY anybody's business?

Ugh... He pays 15%. SO WHAT!

I challenge people to this: ask yourself, seriously,... pause first... WHAT DOES THIS MATTER???

It's all over the mainstream media. Of course, on the left... there is a lot of headlining (you know, publishing a provocative headline to sway the mind of the reader/voter, while using misdirecting/misleading information in the article):

Fox News:

The Huffington Post: (this one is refreshing):
     - I am actually thankful for this article. It tries (though no one is going to take this and run with this) to dispel the myths about millionaires' tax rates. It states:

"In fact, depending on how it's measured, Romney's effective tax rate is likely higher than what many, if not most, Americans pay." 

It continues: 

"But assuming he's correct, here's why his effective rate is probably higher than most people's: The effective tax rate is always going to be lower than one's top income tax rate. And the top rate for roughly four-fifths of Americans is 15% or less, said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center."

"In other words, 80% of Americans have an effective rate below 15%. 'If you consider income tax liability alone, the average effective federal tax rate for people with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000, for instance, is just 3.2%, according to Tax Policy Center estimates.' (In measuring income, the center uses gross income and adds to it other forms of compensation, such as the money your employer contributes to your retirement savings.)"

Okay, we went off on a tangent there. It's frustrating when people believe myth after myth and, unfortunately, use these myths to vote. They get this information from the largest, unchecked, unbalanced faction in this country: the media. We at The Elephant in the Room believe in living in a world of truth and fact. Frankly, we are tired of the media headlining the myth that the rich don't pay enough. 

So, back to the original question. Who cares? What does this have to do with anything? I don't believe his tax rate or his wealth have anything to do with his qualifications for being president. In fact, they should bolster his case; they show he is successful, and we need a president that will actually succeed in turning this country around.

Keep this in mind:

- The average American (we will round here) makes around $50,000. IF he pays (which he doesn't, but we will play this game) 20% of his income in taxes, he pays $10,000 per year in taxes. 

- For every $1,000,000 Mitt Romney makes, if he pays 15%, he pays $150,000 per year in taxes. What he pays in one year is what I would pay in 15! For this, I don't vilify the former governor. I say "thank you." Thank you for paying so much for my government so I don't have to.

And finally, to all those that for some reason have this awful disdain for Romney and is 15% effective rate... He has done NOTHING illegal. If you don't like it, I am reminded of this familiar phrase: "don't hate the player, hate the game."

Part 2:


  1. People need to see this. Keep it up.

  2. So if he pays 1% and it ends up being more then a McDonnalds employee pays at (Lets say for the sake of YOUR argument) 95% income tax. You think its ok because Mitt Romney is dishing out more money ?!

    Here we find the problem with your propaganda machine.

    This is exactly WHY it is relevant.

    If Mitt Romney is going to game the most corrupt system ( The IRS ) for personal gain, who is to say he won't do continue the pattern from Bain Capital and loot our country to the highest bidder?

    The man is corrupt, don't try and pull this "Who's business is it" BULL$!T !

    If he wants to be our leader then every part of his life IS EXACTLY " OUR BUSINESS"

    -Snake Plissken

    1. Snake - Thanks for your input.

      The basis for this article is... "what does this have to do with anything?" Most importantly, we ask the question: "Is that the most important qualification to be president?" Is this important at all?

      First, I'm not sure why you're making assumptions. He doesn't pay 1%. He said he pays 15%. Your point is moot. IF he did pay 1%, then some how he WOULD be doing something illegal and illegal activity, regardless of its type, should and would go into consideration. The fact remains, he didn't pay only 1%. Going back to one of our original questions: Are people really going to say, "you know, I was going to vote for him if he paid 30%, but since he pays only 15%, I'm voting for somebody else?"

      And regardless, YES, he is dishing out more money. Is that a lie or a fact?

      Propaganda machine? HAHAHAHAHA okay, I've pretty much answered most of your comments with respect. This one just make me laugh. Thank you. Please please please tell me... where in here or anything I or any of these contributors write is propaganda. I would LOVE to hear how it is. You're entitled to your opinion, I would certainly hope you would back it. If discussing FACTS and having an opinion on those facts is propaganda, you might need to research what propaganda is. says it is "1. the organized dissemination of information, allegations, rumors etc, to assist or damage the cause of a government, movement, etc." PLEASE show me where we are lying. Show me where we are disseminating lies. As we always do here, we want to see you back what you say.

      You claim "If Mitt Romney is going to game... country to the highest bidder?"
      - Game the system? Where? His overall effective tax rate is 15%. That is what is required of him by law. Please tell me where he did something illegal, nefarious, etc. I want to see how he "gamed" the system. You should also probably research Bain Capital and its practices under Romney before you spout your "propaganda" about it. It seemed that no matter what the press wants to put in its headlines, he did great things while at Bain. The press is trying to distort this for people who don't quite understand private equity/venture capital, and it's trying to make people believe something they don't really know anything about.

      The man is corrupt? Nice opinion... what is it based on? Examples of corruption? Got any?

      Thanks for your input. We addressed your statements, I hope you address ours. Looking forward to hearing back from you.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. This comment has been deleted for containing disgusting, slanderous, hateful language.

  3. The only thing about your scenario though, is that if he does pay 15% in taxes on 1 million dollars, which equals $150,000, that would be without tax loopholes, deductions, write-offs, etc of which I am SURE he takes advantage. Your numbers are appealing if everyone was taxed at a flat rate and were not allowed deductions and write-offs, but alas, our IRS makes it so only the rich can keep more of the money they earn per year than the Joe Normal earning $50,000 a year in your scenario. Should we vilify Mitt for this? Probably not, he just doing what his accountants are telling him to do, but as a member of government he should be trying to overhaul the tax system so everyone pays their FAIR share.

    1. Anonymous - Thank you for your reply.

      With regards to the 15%, this is his EFFECTIVE tax rate. This is a simple overall rate of what he actually pays in taxes versus relative to his income. This is why the news articles are using this specific term. With it being 15%, that is after deductions, write-offs, etc. Keep in mind, many of his income is off of capital gains (taxed up to 15%). He did have earned income during the year (taxed up to 35%). He had more capital gains than earned income, which is why his effective rate is closer to 15%. Yes, I'm sure he utilized many, many tax deductions, but those deductions that reduce his rate below 15% are wiped out by the > 15% rate he pays on earned income. At the end of the day, it works out to be a 15% overall rate. Also, my assumption was on $1,000,000 of income. It appears that he has made a lot more than this. That $150,000 number could be off by a factor of 5, meaning he will have paid more in taxes in one year than me and the average middle class American pays in their lifetime. The jury is out on that though.

      With regards to a flat-rate tax... YES!!!! If you read through this blog, this is what we believe in. A simple, flat, non-discriminatory rate for all taxpayers is the only way to ensure fairness. No loopholes, no deductions, etc. If you make $1,000,000, where $750,000 is from your salary and $250,000 is from capital gains, if the flat rate was 25%, you owe $250,000. End of story. It also ensures that every working American contributes the same amount of time per hour (in a 25% rate, that's 15 minutes) to the government. We are definitely in favor of this.

      Thank you again for your comment. We definitely hope you come back and give your opinions again!

  4. This is an interesting question to me. I want the fact that Romney pays just 15% (effectively) to mean something but I agree with LME and I hate the game - though I'm still not a fan of the player :)!

    I do think, however, that the candidates should release their tax returns. It is too easy for a candidate to lie on financial disclosure forms and the penalties are virtually non-existent. The reason I think they are important is that they make it clear where Romney (or any candidate) made their money. It allows the public transparency to avoid conflicts of interest. They are Romney's personal, private records and he is not required to release them. However, I would have a hard time trusting a candidate who didn't release them. To me, nobody is made to run for President and, if one so chooses to do so, the release of personal information is part of the cost of doing business.

    As to the point of a flat tax, hmmmmmmmmmm!?!?!? That's one I'm on the fence about but lean toward opposing it.

    1. Whatsamattausa - good afternoon!

      You know, this entire "game" would be eliminated with just a flat tax. It would also eliminate gov't discrimination and incentive killing. A flat, pay XX% tax ensures everyone knows they pay the same minutes per hour they work to support the gov't. But that's for a different day.

      As far as the tax returns, I would be okay if they were to an election board or something. If the election board then deemed him okay to be a candidate (he was shown not to be in violation) then that's fine. What I am against is 1. all this talk about his rate, his income, etc. and 2. (of course) the media's handling of this. To me, none of that is anyone's business, and it has nothing to do with if he can be a successful, effective leader. So much of this is propagated by the press, however. He isn't required by law, but the "law" of public court is demanding, and their attorney is the media. At the end of the day, the media will win, and a private citizen is going to be forced to turn over this private information, which I don't even want to see.

      Kinda stinks though, we were on a run of agreements :-P If I don't hear back from you today, Have a great day!

    2. LME - Don't get me wrong, I don't think a flat tax is unfair and I don't necessarily disagree with you. I think a flat tax would be a HUGE improvement over the ridiculous system in place today. I simply think there should be somewhat of a curve where the wealthy would pay a bit more. Perhaps only a small difference of 5% or so. My thinking behind that is that the people at the bottom of the financial food chain, the minimum wage earners (and similar), need more of their money to maintain a minimal standard of living. A wealthy family of 4 and a poor family of 4 will both have like costs to maintain the minimal life necessities (food, fuel, utilities, etc.). So, both families would be paying 'X' dollars to just to hit that minimum. So, it seems to me that it would be more fair to help these people make that minimum standard. In addition to that, it is my feeling that the wealthy make their money on the backs of the poor. It is generally done by paying low wages, contributing minimum amounts to employee healthcare (if the employee gets it at all), etc. It is just more difficult for the bottom folks to make a living. It's really just, perhaps, a philosophical difference. By no means do I think a flat tax is unfair, I just believe there should be some concession for those who struggle. I don't think it is unreasoable and I believe it is the right thing to do.

      As for the tax returns. I do get your point and again, don't disagree with you. However, I wouldn't trust another governmental body to act in my best interest. The people, as a whole, are incorruptible and, when the people get to look at them, they can be verified and challenged as there are others out there that know the truth. I don't think they should ever be forced to do it but I like the fact that they do. I have to say though, the fact that Romney is so dodgy about the whole thing makes me feel like something is up. I don't understand, at all, his thinking on waiting until April. I almost feel like there is something in his 2010 return that is going to hurt him. He could release them today but is waiting until his 2011 return is done. Something seems fishy about his position.

      btw - I like your analogy of the media being the lawyers of the public court!

  5. Either you have very little reading comprehension or you son't understand what an analogy is.

    I never claimed that Mitt ACTUALLY pays 1%

    I illustrated the folly of your statement and you pretend to not understand and re direct the conversation into something that it is not. That is why I think you run a propaganda machine of misinformation and dismissal of anyone and anything (the truth) you disagree with.

    If you are UNABLE TO SEE MY POINT then I have no idea how I might get through to you.

    -Snake Plissken

    1. Snake - I actually totally understand what you were getting at. i even acknowledged it AND I answered how that would change my view by saying: "IF he did pay 1%, then some how he WOULD be doing something illegal and illegal activity, regardless of its type, should and would go into consideration."

      But why live in the world of "ifs?" I totally see your point; you were making the assertion that if, yes, he paid only 1%, would I still write it off as "well, he is still paying way more than the middle/poorer class?" I got that... no I wouldn't, and I would upset that he is paying 1%. I did, say that yes, it is a moot point. The fact is, he is paying around 15% which is still higher than the overall tax rate that the average American pays. To me, it doesn't matter.

      Thank you.

    2. Also, really quick. You can have your opinion, but are we giving out misinformation. We don't dismiss anyone, either. Look at any of our/my responses. We disagree, which we have the right do to... but we are always respectful. We don't dismiss any person. I hope that is clear to everyone.

    3. HAHA OOPS! Yeah, didn't mean to type that. We are NOT giving out misinformation.

  6. Well at least you admitted to giving out misinformation.

    Thanks for that at least.

    -Snake Plissken

    1. See reply above. If you think you have proof that we are giving out misinformation, please email us or post it here. You're always welcome to challenge anything we say. That's what debate is about. I would love to hear how we are doing this in your eyes.

  7. Oh , here ya go !

    Tell me how much Mitt should be paying according to this ?

    -Snake Plissken

  8. Why is someone only making $33,000 paying a higher rate then Mitt ?

    -Snake Plissken

  9. Snake - Mitt should be paying whatever the legally required amount is. Right now, there is no proof whatsoever that he does not do this. If proof comes out that he does not, and he is actually a cheat (like Timothy G) and owes taxes, then that will be taken into account.

    How in the world do you figure someone making $33,000 is paying a higher rate?

    Do you know how marginal tax rates work? This isn't a demeaning questions; I'm just asking if you understand this.

    According to the site you linked, someone making $33,000 would pay the following in taxes if they were single.

    10% on the first $8,350 = $835
    15% on $33,000 - $8,350 ($24,650) = $3,697.50

    Total tax paid = $4,532.50

    Total effective tax rate = ($4,532.50/$33,000) = 13.73%

    So, this person would pay an effective rate of 13.73%. This is BEFORE deductions. During the year, in total, I have approximately $10,000 taken out of my $50k paycheck. That's about 20%. When I get my tax return back, I get about $4,000 back. That means I pay $6,000 on $50,000 or about 12%... NOT 20%

    Additionally, what do you say of the case made in the article? It states: "In other words, 80% of Americans have an effective rate below 15%.""If you consider income tax liability alone, the average effective federal tax rate for people with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000, for instance, is just 3.2%, according to Tax Policy Center estimates. (In measuring income, the center uses gross income and adds to it other forms of compensation, such as the money your employer contributes to your retirement savings.)"

    And again, if you have a problem with Mitt paying the rate he does, he did NOT cause the rate. How can you be upset at him? Be mad at the law, not the person that follows it to a T. What do you think? Thank you for your opinion.

  10. Okay, he was smart enough to learn how to make money. Now he pays the government mandated amount for investments just as I do. I don't pay as much as him, and I do not resent someone who has his knowledge. With investments, the companies you invest in have already paid up to 40% tax, then you pay again when a company makes money. What Mitt has done is follow the law. Is he wealthy you bet. Do We need someone like him in office? Absolutely.

    1. To game the system further to his advantage.

      Yeah, what a patriot you are.

      Nothing sleazy about not paying your fair share.

    2. @AnonymousJan 23, 2012 12:26 AM -

      As LME said, don't hate the player, hate the game (I do!). As much as I don't like it and I think it is completely unfair, Romney is, by all accounts, paying what is required of him by law. Generally, those obstructing tax reform are the GOP who view raising taxes on the wealthy as a point they won't even discuss. I don't like Romney and I don't like the tax system but he isn't doing anything less than what the government asks him to do!

    3. Even Warren Buffet (who is technically my boss, and who I very much disagree with) says, basically, "don't hate the player, hate the game."


      But, even with that, I think there is a LOT of misinformation. As the CNN article above states, yes, Romney might pay 15%, but the average middle income earner (~$50,000) pays very little in taxes.

      From the article:

      "In other words, 80% of Americans have an effective rate below 15%. 'If you consider income tax liability alone, the average effective federal tax rate for people with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000, for instance, is just 3.2%, according to Tax Policy Center estimates.' (In measuring income, the center uses gross income and adds to it other forms of compensation, such as the money your employer contributes to your retirement savings.)"

      I just can't get around this. I've written about it before, cited reports about this before, and I can't live in the world of myth. I sincerely believe in living in a world of truth and fact, and I can't stand the notion of headlining things (such as millionaires paying lower tax rates than the middle class) that aren't true.