January 24, 2012

Romney's federal tax returns: "he is likely to pay a total of $6.2 million in taxes on $45 million in income over the two tax years of 2010 and 2011."

The NYT reports:
Mr. Romney said last week that his effective tax rate was “about 15 percent,” a figure lower than that of many affluent Americans. But his returns suggested that he paid an effective tax rate of nearly 14 percent.
That's a heavy-handed "but." 14 is "about 15."
“I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more,” Mr. Romney said during Monday night’s debate. “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”
Exactly! The question isn't what he paid — unless he cheated — but what his tax policy for the country would be. Still, he really needs to be able to explain cogently and persuasively why capital gains are taxed the way they are. And he really needs to be able to convey why we should want a man who mostly worked in private finance to help us out with our finances.
Mr. Romney, a Mormon, has long said that he had promised to give 10 percent of his income to his church. His tax return shows that over two years he and his wife, Ann, gave $7 million in charitable contributions, including $4.1 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So he gave more money to his church than to the federal government. Is "gave" the right verb for both of those payments? Perhaps it's not the right verb for either. Tithing is compulsory in the church, is it not? In both cases, he's relinquishing what is due under a requirement.

CORRECTION:  Romney gave more money to charity than to the federal government. The amount given to his church was $4.1 million, which is less than the $6.2 million given to the federal government. He gave $7 million total to charity.

Remember when Joe Biden released his tax returns in 2008 and we saw that he gave about 0.15% to charity? That same year, we saw the Obamas had given 5.8% - 6.1% of their income to charity. McCain was way up in the 27.3% - 28.6% range. To be fair, Democrats' idea of government is more of a replacement for charity. Let everyone hand over the appropriate amount and government will rationally/politically determine how to deal with all the needs. If you think that's a good idea — isn't it, in the abstract? — then you probably lean Democratic. I do think it's a good idea — in the abstract — but I lean back to the center when I think about concrete reality, and I don't trust the government to determine the needs and dispense the money properly. I also don't trust people to choose charities well. (They'll give for the cure of diseases that attack sympathetic people and shell out big time for dogs and cats.) And I don't trust charities to handle vast pools of money properly. Unlike many conservatives, I don't care about the warm feelings of self-love that flood the brains of charitable givers. I care about competently dealing with real needs and avoiding waste and corruption.

211 comments:

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William said...

During the middle ages certain aristocrats and merchants vied with each other to build carillons and church bells. Never ask for whom the bell tolls, ask who paid for the tolling of the bells. I suppose there was a certain amount of self aggrandizement to this charity, but that was the charity that opened their pursestrings. An interesting unintended consequence of this bronze bell casting was that Europeans were able to cast durable cannons. This gave them quite a leg up in their conflicts with other peoples. Church bells today. World domination tomorrow. I'm sure that hard headed realists back then felt that money should not be wasted on church bells and, instead, should be devoted to burning Jews and witches, but that was the decision back then.....According to Keynes, it doesn't matter so much on what the money is spent so much as that the money is spent. So in that sense money spent on panda bears is just as useful as money spent on solar panels. Indeed, I would argue that the causes people care passionately enough about to devote their time, wealth and energy to propagating have more validity than the causes which government bureaucrats wish you to devote your time, wealth, and energy towards.

shiloh said...

It's mittens' turn ...

I'm sorry, It's my turn.

My time is extremely valuable. Indeed, you cannot put a price on my time as it's my time, not your time.

>

"I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green"

Spencer Tracy used an almost identical line in the movie State of the Union.

Reagan, god love him, straight out of central casting. btw, Dutch got the moderators, Mr. Breen, name wrong.

hmm, mittens trying to be like Dutch.

>

Any yes, mittens is no Reagan!

Blue@9 said...

This is one of those things that is perfectly good policy but is hard to explain to people.

Romney makes most of his money from investments, and that's taxed at the capital gains rate.

There's really no way to fix this unless you want to increase the capital gains rates, and that would demolish this economy.

Darleen said...

That itself is one of the main reasons why public aid so often trumps private aid.

God lord.

What is the color of the sky in your world?

(seriously, have any handy examples?)

William said...

One could always start a charity to eradicate the infestation of pandas in our zoos.

Bruce Hayden said...

I also don't trust people to choose charities well. (They'll give for the cure of diseases that attack sympathetic people and shell out big time for dogs and cats.) And I don't trust charities to handle vast pools of money properly. Unlike many conservatives, I don't care about the warm feelings of self-love that flood the brains of charitable givers. I care about competently dealing with real needs and avoiding waste and corruption.

This is maybe where one of the big differences between left and right here, and why, and why, Ann won't ever move totally over to the dark side.

The left believes that governments (run, of course, by themselves) would do a better job at determining where people should spend their money, than those earning it could. We are talking charities here, but the theory applies pretty much across the board.

Governments are not good at this sort of thing, by almost any metric. Diseases were mentioned-Bill Gates seems to be doing much better with malaria than all the governments that are trying to address the same problems.

The left ignore that when governments spend our money, they do it politically. Funds are not allocated rationally or economically, but rather, politically. And, you find yourself in a situation like we have now, where Jack Abramoff claimed that lobbying our government often have a 22,000% ROI. No wonder market incumbents would rather buy members of Congress, than spend their money developing new products or otherwise competing for sales.

Who here really believes that breast cancer research is the most cost effective way to spend cancer research money? It isn't, by far. But, it gets huge amounts of public funding, because we are all have mothers, wives, and daughters. And, yes, women whine more than men do, so more money goes to women's cancers than to men's. Note that cancers are not uniformly represented across different races and ethnic groups, and that "white" cancers get a significantly larger share of funding than do "black" types of cancers. Why? Political power.

The reality is that the amounts of money spent combating different things that kill us, and the different types of cancers than do so, bear only a marginal relationship to the deaths that they all cause.

By now, the major types of cancers, etc., each have their lobbyists, and their allocation of the research pie is more dependent upon their lobbying muscle than their actual need. And, this shouldn't be any surprise to anyone here.

Bruce Hayden said...

Solving diseases isn't the only thing that governments do worse at than the private sector and private contributions. Look at space flight - at a fraction of what NASA has spent, even on a single shuttle launch, private individuals, companies, etc. have come far closer to getting man permanently in space than the government has over the last couple of years. We now have multiple serious shots at economic space flight, none of which come out of our government. This year, we may see the first private tours of the international space station - somewhere the U.S. government can no longer get us, after spending countless billions of taxpayer dollars. Why? Partially because our government got stuck with 1970s technology with our space shuttles, and politically, could not change course for decades after the technology became obsolete. We are talking a billion or so per space shuttle shot - more money probably per shot than has been spent, in total, in private space development.

Governments do little well, and most things badly, and the bigger the money, the more inefficiently and badly it is spent. A good part of that is because how and where the money is spent becomes increasingly political as the amount spent increases. No wonder market incumbents would rather buy members of Congress, than spend their money developing new products or otherwise competing for sales.

p.s. Blogger can't count - had to chop this into two posts, because Blogger claimed that the total was > 4096 characters, while Word claimed it to be < 4000, including blanks.

Bruce Hayden said...

There's really no way to fix this unless you want to increase the capital gains rates, and that would demolish this economy.

But, that would apparently be ok with President Obama, as long as the money were distributed more fairly.

EMD said...

Yes, governments can misallocate - but the reason government got into this in modern society was the failure of private charity and owner/aristocrat generosity to adequately deal with public health issues, caring for the sick and indigent.


Or, it was just a power grab from the Bolsheviks on down.

Bruce Hayden said...

Yes, governments can misallocate - but the reason government got into this in modern society was the failure of private charity and owner/aristocrat generosity to adequately deal with public health issues, caring for the sick and indigent.

Not only can governments misallocate resources, they almost invariably grossly misallocate such. It is the nature of government. They do not make decisions based on efficiency. Rather, they are far more likely to make such on the basis of politics. Or, often, at the whim of bureaucrats.

When it comes to health care, where do they come up with this supposed obligation? And, what are the limits on it? Why should those who don't work deserve comparable, if not superior, health care, etc. to those who do work, and contribute the most to society? Why shouldn't the amount and quality of healthcare one gets have some relationship to what one contributes to society?

Bob from district 9 said...

Jay said...

"Remember when the Clinton's counted underwear as charitable contributions?"

Nixon did that.

I had to call the IRS for some information on a charitable deduction. The lady on the assist line said I had to determine the value myself. I asked, what if I claimed the original price.


She asked, "Who do you think you are, Richard Nixon?"

Still funny, if you remember that far back.

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