Mitt Romney has made his latest income tax return public. So also has Newt Gingrich. Aside from the details, Romney's return shows that he, like Warren Buffett, paid at a lower rate based on his entire income than did most of the rest of us common herd. Does this information indicate that Romney, Buffett, and numerous other men of great wealth are dishonest, unscrupulous cheats? Of course not. The scandal here is not that Romney and others pay a smaller fraction of their total income to the U.S. Treasury than most of us, but rather that our convoluted tax code allows them to do so. That scandal may actually lead to a serious move to change the tax code and remove the parts of it that allow super millionaires and billionaires to take advantage of the low rates available to them.
Naturally, Mr. Romney was reluctant to reveal his tax return. He wasn't worried about being exposed as an unscrupulous cheat, which he isn't. He was worried about publicizing those parts of the tax code that permitted him to reduce his total tax liability to about seventeen percent of his total income. Airing these features may energize the public to force a change in the tax code. Neither Mr. Romney nor any other multimillionaire wants to see these features go away.
Now, eliminating the tax code features that allow very rich people to pay at a low rate is a cause worth demonstrating for. Is the OCCUPY movement ready to take it on?
Labels: tax rates for the very rich