Mitt Romney was asked by ABC News if there was ever any year when he paid lower than a 13.9% effective tax rate as his 2010 tax returns show.
Said Romney: “I haven’t calculated that. I’m happy to go back and look but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law.”
However, when pressed if he would get back to the interviewer, Romney wouldn’t directly answer the question.
There are a few reason why this matters:
One is that Romney is trying to portray himself as an economic policy wonk: the numbers guy. If he honestly doesn’t know if he has ever paid less than what he paid on the one tax return he release, that undermines his own narrative. On the other hand, he might know that he did pay less than 13.1%- and how much less- and he is dishonestly guarding that fact, because he knows it won’t play well with people making less than one hundredth what he makes and who pay a higher tax rate than he does.
Second is that Romney- while behaving as though his taxes are nobody’s business- is arguing for a tax plan that harms 95% of Americans– but not on people at the top. No, the top few- including Romney- are the ones he wants to give tax breaks. Of course, he already gets generous tax breaks, such as a tax deduction of $129,697 because of having large amounts of money overseas.
And third is this strange idea that capital should be taxed less than labor. Shouldn’t work be encouraged? After all, capital without labor fills storage rooms, gathers dust in warehouses or rots on the vine. And yet Romney’s income from owning capital is taxed less than income that Americans get from doing work.