I paid way more in taxes than Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney seemed proud, proud I say, that he paid “about 13% in taxes”. We have no way to know if that’s true or not, nor is it clear what taxes on what income he is referring to. Does that mean income taxes, did he include state taxes, was sales tax somehow factored in, perhaps he didn’t include any comp that ended up in his $100 million IRA as income? Or, seeing as Mittens has lied about his taxes before and been stone cold busted, it could be complete bullshit through and through. But here’s the thing, even if it’s true, I pay more income taxes percentage wise than Romney. Odds are so do you.

WSJ — “[C]an we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit. Stunning.” …“Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college.”

As regular readers know I’m currently in a dead end low paying job about ten ticks below my qualifications and past salaries. During good times I was smart, I paid with cash, rarely used credit cards, and for better or for worse I don’t have kids or any other dependents. Not even a pet. So no car payments, no mortgage, I don’t have a dating life of any kind, so no unexpected expenses or birthday presents or anything like that. Plus I live in a tiny studio apartment, my employer pays for my entire insurance premium and it’s fan-fucking-tastic insurance, I never travel for fun or go to movies or concerts or nice restaurants. I literally cannot afford any of that.

That’s my life post economic collapse. It wasn’t always like this. Sometimes I feel like Johnny Mnemonic, when he broke down crying about room service and fine dining, and started screaming “I want my life back!” I too, want my life back.

Take about $12/hour and do the math: every month is tight. It’s rare when there’s more than a hundred bucks left over. At least my full time employer is profitable, there’s overtime available whenever I want it. And a few weeks ago we even got some greatly appreciated profit-sharing. My share was about $500 bucks. Not great, but it’s money I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

That full 500 didn’t end up in my checking account though, because I had to pay income taxes on it. I may end up qualifying for a refund, but with zero deductions it won’t be anywhere close to what I paid in. I paid about $140 in federal income taxes on that $500, or about 28%. Or more than twice what Mitt Romney paid on his millions, at least according to Mitt Romney.

Seriously conservatives, in your addled minds, this is fair?

Admittedly, I sit in an air conditioned cube farm, but that’s where the fun ends. I’m wired into headset, one of a team of bad ass tech support gurus wired into headsets, staring at double screens packed with data for 10 hours a day, supporting one of the most complex software creations ever developed for a global market. Half my calls or online contacts are delivered in broken english over questionable phone systems at least part of which reside in the third world. In the space of one or two minutes of scratchy, static filled english as a second-language conservation I am tasked to collect critical diagnostic info, use it to track identify known bugs and glitches, from the network to end user PC and Mac levels, and walked the customer through implementing that solution. And if I miss three days over six months, for any reason, including car wreck, terrorist attack, or lightning strike, I can be fined my profit sharing, denied any hope of any raise or promotion, or summarily fired.

It’s not a fun life, in fact it’s a little bit bleak. The tech challenged Mitt Romney’s of the world would crash and burn at this job and the forced drab lifestyle inside of five minutes, at the end of the day they would be a quivering mass of conflicting nerve impulses, assuming they didn’t stroke out in their cube. On the other hand, as a quasi-retired financial analyst with degrees in math and physics, I’m pretty sure I could least bullshit my way through Mitt Romney’s Bain job for a day or two — if not actually learn on the job and do it competently pretty quick.

In short, I think my job is way, way harder than Mitt’s. But even if you disagree with that, the point is I work hard for peanuts, and there is no middle class success beckoning at the end of the tunnel, let alone a life of luxury and ease, and there never will be as long as I’m in this job. Unless I find another job — and believe me I’m trying — the best prognosis is I don’t get fired or laid off or outsourced, and maybe an annual 20 or 30 cent an hour raise. As long as the company is making money and I don’t get sick or injured.

Mitt Romney paid 13% in taxes, I pay way more.

Romney whipped out that 13% figure like it was some kind of burden. As though he were proud of his sacrifice. There was a haughtiness to it, like “ha-ha, look how much I paid!” He was able to get away with it, presumably, because capital gains are taxed at a base rate of 15%, and Romney no doubt had deductions. Like his $75,000 dancing horse deduction and who knows what else. It’s a sick system that allows this to continue. Truth be told Republicans are way more gung ho for it than dems, but there are plenty of democrats willing to go along. It’s sick, just fucking sick, rotten to the core.

We’ll probably never know if Romney really paid about 13% in federal income taxes, or how much the compensation was when offshore and Swiss bank accounts and tax qualified monies or stock are included, because Ann and Mitt Romney aren’t going to release their returns to us commoners getting taxed at normal income bracket rates.

We just have to trust them.


  1. F says

    I don’t even get enough work to pay taxes. I’d like to.

    For all Ryanomney’s amazing fiscal abilities, what do you want to bet that they don’t even know how much the lower classes pay? (Since they are always so fond of saying that so many of us don’t pay taxes at all, which is a lie, even if we don’t make enough to pay income tax and also receive no assistance whatsoever.)

  2. leedawson says

    First things first, this is not a defense of Mitt Romney; this is an explanation of how it is not fair and dishonest to compare (percentage-wise) what one person pays in Effective Federal Income Tax (which I shall call EFIT from here on in, although I’m not sure if that is the correct acronym) and what another pays paycheck to paycheck.

    The WSJ article you referenced clearly states the 13% is his EFIT (and as such does not include what he paid in sales tax, state income tax, corporate tax, the taxes on his LLCs, his property taxes, FICA, or anything but Federal Income tax). To find your EFIT for a better comparison look at your W2 from this year, and look at your tax return (if you were employed in 2011, if not or you didn’t file taxes, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to take my word for it as a fellow low income earner) you’ll notice the amount on block 2 (federal income tax withheld) now subtract your refund. Last year I paid around 5% EFIT, on less then $25,000.

    Please keep in mind this does not include the taxes he pays through his LLCs. This includes the $75,000 horse which was bought through an LLC owned by his wife and her friends.

    Let me ask you this, were you this angry 8 years ago with John Kerry? Now, he did release his taxes, but that only included his income from being a Senator (roughly $144,000 annually). Everything else is in his wife’s name, they file separately, and she did not release her records. Teresa Heinz is worth around 3 times what Mitt Romney is worth, and unless you want me to assume that John Kerry never touches any of her money, doesn’t live in her mansions, or vacations on her yacht, or she never engages in any expensive vanity purchases (such as horses), then I feel the comparison is apt.

    As far as my personal opinion on the matter, yes, Mitt Romney should release EVERY tax return he has ever filed. I was also angry (along with the republicans, some of whom are being consistent here at least) when Mrs. Heinz wouldn’t release her tax returns.

  3. says

    Had Kerry’s wife been trying to cut Medicare and Social Security and lower her tax rates at our expense, not to mention lying every time she opens her mouth about everything under the sun with a stated goal of reenactng the same pokicies favoring the rich that crashed and burned in 2008, all while she was running for president you better believe I would have been “this angry.” She’s not doing any of that, in fact she has worked and taken shots supporting candidates and policies directly against her immediate financial interests.

    Teresa Heinz-Kerry is a far, far cry from Mitt Romney and the teaparty and that’s say it nicely.

    On Mitt’s taxes, he has not said whether it’s income taxes nor provided even a vague breakdown of what his comp was or how it was classified for the last ten years except for a single year, nor released any records showing what it was. As a presidential candidate he has a huge motive to avoid embaressing facts, he has lied in the past about his taxes for political reasons and been caught. Ergo, it’s completely reasonable to question his honesty now.

    Lastly, I appreciate you took the time to comment. It is thoughtful, it is full of facts and analysis. But I believe your very first sentence may be less than honest: taken as a whole, this particular post indeed reads to me like it could be a soft-sell defense of Mitt Romney from start to finish.

  4. christophburschka says

    Seriously conservatives, in your addled minds, this is fair?

    The conservatives would say it’s unfair on Romney, because he paid a greater absolute amount. I’ve seriously heard this kind of argument.

  5. leedawson says

    I do not disagree with a single thing said in your post, and thank you for the kind words. As far as cooing of as a soft-sell on Romney, in hindsight I should have said this is not a “defense of Romney as a person” and should not have included my mini-rant on Mrs. Heinz. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, please know that I will not be voting for either candidate. Michigan is favorably Obama and I don’t see that changing, plus I cannot in good conscience support a few of his policies (I trust this is vague enough and will not require us to get side tracked, no?). Romney… I have a feeling you know exactly why I will not be voting for him. With this in mind though I do try to defend the facts when I can, and really don’t have to defend Obama to anyone but my father (he’s a 60+ year old who can be very stubborn at times). I hope this gives you a better idea of where I’m coming from.

  6. marcus says

    “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes…”, Leona Helmsley.
    This is what they truly believe. Leona just made the mistake of saying it out loud.

  7. TGAP Dad says

    Keep in mind this is what Mittens SAID – without providing any actual, you know evidence. Mittens has said a lot of things, some of which he asserted quite strongly before having to revise or retract them later. The most public example was when he filed taxe returns as a Utah resident when he organized the Olympics, but then wanted to govern Massachusetts, which has a residency requirement as a qualification to hold office. Mittens assured everyone that he had indeed been a resident, right up until he needed to prove it to qualify for office, then retroactively revised his tax returns.

    Then there was the issue with whether or not he headed up Bain during he time when it did some aggressive job offshoring. Mittens said to trust him, he was not involved at all, but off running the Olympics. Turns out he was lying about this as well, as borne out by Bain’s own corporate filings listing him on the board.

    Bottom line is that Mittens lied about these two things, as well as countless others in the “I never said that” area. I am reminded of Nixon assuring us that there was nothing on the tapes that would implicate him. Then he produced “transcripts” of them. Then when we finally got a hold of the tapes, turns out he was lying, and 18 minutes of tape were mysteriously erased. In the words of Reagan: “trust but verify.”

  8. jamessweet says

    In short, I think my job is way, way harder than Mitt’s.

    Yeah, it’s been my observation, at least with the jobs I have had, that there is an inverse correlation between how “hard” the job is on a day-to-day basis vs. how much I make. Now, I mean “hard” as in how much effort I have to expend at the time I am doing the job, and other related factors: It is definitely true that my present job as a software engineer in a research area requires a hell of a lot more skill than when I was a fry cook at Perkins :D Anyone could have done my job at Perkins, but few people could do my job now.

    However, in terms of how hard I personally work? I’d be fired in like two days at Perkins. In some ways, this kind of thing is unavoidable (for instance, if I worked as “hard” at this job as I did at Perkins, my net productivity would probably actually go down, since a certain amount of space and freedom and playfulness is required to come up with really creative solutions). But it sure sucks for the people getting the short end of the stick :/

    (I have absolutely no idea about Romney’s job at Bain capital, if that is not just “easier” in the sense of day-to-day effort, or if, as you imply, it requires less specialized knowledge and skills as well. Can’t say.)

  9. OpenMindedNotCredulous says

    @leedawson: Using your math I paid an EFIT of 17.6%I’m extremely lucky to have a high paying job as a software engineer. Had I paid Mitt’s 13% EFIT that would have meant another $11000 in my pocket. And I don’t have any of his deductions since 99% of my income is straight salary and my only deductions are related to my house and charitable donations. My total tax burden, not counting the %8.25 I pay in sales tax in California, is north of %27. Mitt Romney and everyone like him are grade A assholes.

  10. leedawson says

    OpenMindedNotCredulous, It’s not my math.

    That out of the way, if you were given the choice the have your tax burden lowered to Mitt Romney’s and have that extra $11,000, would you? If not, then you are a more generous (to the government) person then I am, and if not: what fault do you lay at Romney, Buffet, Gates, Tim Cook, and others of the super rich class? They didn’t create the tax “game,” they only play by its rules, and none of them are in a position to change it (influence yes, but not change). The people who can change it have done nothing as it would upset the balance of their donors (regardless of the letter that appears after their names).

    Instead of decrying a man who uses legal means to pay lower taxes, decry the people who keep these means in place (politicians AND special interest groups). There’s so much more to hate Romney for then paying at a lower tax rate than you.

    Also, you don’t need to put the @ symbol before my name to let people know you are talking to me. It makes sense in twitter because you would be linking to my account, but in a WordPress blog, it’s pointless. I don’t want to come off as harsh on this; it’s a pet peeve.

  11. OpenMindedNotCredulous says

    @leedawson: This has nothing to do with being “generous to the government”. It has to do with shouldering my share of what it takes to have a civil society. One that I might need to call upon for support should I be layed-off from my job. I’ve managed to survive seven layoffs in my 30+ years of full-time employment. Some of those were due to my skills and work ethic but at least two were just due to random chance (aka luck).

    What happens if you become ill in a manner that keeps you from work for a couple of months? Do you have enough resources to weather such a crisis and return to your old standard of living without assistance? I am (currently) fortunate enough to be able to answer “yes” since I have $90K in my savings account. But I do not kid myself that that is the natural state of the universe.

    And to say “they only play by the rules” tells everyone you’re a fucking moron. They created those rules. They do everything in their power to ensure those rules not only stay in place but are enhanced to benefit themselves at the expense of the majority of our citizens.

  12. OpenMindedNotCredulous says

    Also, leedawson, pedants are obnoxious assholes. And I say that as someone with pedant tendencies. To say that “it’s not my math” is irrelevant and technically wrong. It was the point you raised and thus the math you believe is relevant. And prefixing your pseudonym with an @ symbol is not pointless. It’s a widespread convention. Although I’ll grant you that in the UNIX community a tilde prefix is normally used rather than an at symbol. No doubt other communities have other conventions. So, “I don’t want to come off as harsh on this”, but blow me you ignorant pompous ass.

  13. leedawson says

    I was more than happy to continue this discourse until you had to resort to insults to make your arguments. Ad hominem attacks have no place in civil discussion and I’m sorry that you are unable to express yourself without them. If you are so unable to handle disagreement or correction about using a twitter convention in a WordPress blog that you need to resort to childish insults, as your own arguments weren’t enough, you should never leave your sheltered life wherein this conduct is acceptable. Good day, have a good life; I shan’t be a part of any more of it.

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