September 21, 2012
SMU Political Science Professors Matthew Wilson and Cal Jillson responded Friday afternoon to Mitt Romney's release of tax return information, saying the amount of his wealth was no surprise but his shrinking income may startle some.
Romney's 2011 tax returns show that he paid $1.9 million in taxes on $13.7 million in income, most of which came from his investments.
"In January the Romney campaign released an estimate of Mitt and Ann Romney’s 2011 federal taxes," Jillson said. "The estimate was that they would pay $3.2 million in taxes on income of $21 million. Today the actual tax return was released and it showed taxes paid of $1.9 million on 2011 income of $13.7 million.
"There are two possible reactions to these facts," Jillson continued. "One is simply that he needs to fire his estimator. The other is that if his income keeps collapsing at the current rate he may be eligible for the earned income tax credit in 2013 and will have joined the 47 percent who look to the government for handouts because they are unwilling to take personal responsibility for their lives.”
Wilson, on the other hand, said, "Basically, this confirms what we knew before: Romney is very wealthy, and gives lots of his money away to charity. Because of those charitable contributions and because most of his income comes from investments, he pays a lower tax rate than one might suspect for someone in his income bracket.
"The bigger issue for Romney," Wilson continued, "is that he needs to get the focus off of himself and onto the President. Stories about his “47%” comments and his tax returns do not help in that regard."
One of the nation’s foremost political experts, Jillson regularly provides thoughtful insight on U.S. and Texas politics. A professor of political science, he is also the author of Lone Star Tarnished, and a former member of the Council of Foreign Relations.
Wilson specializes in the politics and voting behavior of religious voters, as well as public opinion, elections, religion and politics, and political psychology. He is currently at work on two book projects, one on the political behavior of American Catholics and another dealing with how citizens decide whom to hold accountable for social and political outcomes.
Visit SMU's Election 2012 experts site.
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