What Romney’s And Obama’s Tax Returns Tell Us About Who They Are (Besides Rich)

by evanmcmurry

Here’s a graph, via Lee Drutman of the Sunlight Foundation, of the incomes and tax rates of recent presidents, dating back to Reagan:

Long graph short:

1) This election is between the two richest candidates in the modern era; none of the previous presidents come close to Obama in income, let alone Romney, who single-handedly extends the income axis of the graph by 400%. If you were so inclined, you could see this election as just one rich man versus another.

2) Romney paid the lowest taxes of any of the presidents; his highest reported rate, 15.4%, is still a tenth of a percentage point lower than the next lowest rate, paid by B41. By contrast, Obama paid far and away the highest tax rate, paying 32.6% in 2009 and 33.7% in 2007. More simply: Obama made 1/4 of what Romney did, but paid double the tax rate. Part of that is due to the nature of the men’s income: Obama’s was straight income, Romney’s was from investments. But Romney also has offshore accounts, etc., designed entirely to avoid paying taxes (tax avoision being the legal version of tax evasion). Obama paid what he owed; Romney paid as little as possible.

If this is an election between two rich men, it’s an election between two very different kinds of rich men.