Daily Archives: September 25th, 2012

Charitably Taxing

Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax return and the media went nuts.

Every angle got explored. The narratives were legion.

  • Romney gave a “gift” the the government by overpaying on his taxes.
  • Romney’s 2011 rate of making charitable donations is higher than Obama’s. 29.4% for Romney vs. 21.8% for Obama.
  • Romney’s tax return was crafted to prove he always pays at least a 13% rate as he previously claimed.
  • Romney could have given more to charity but it would have lowered his tax rate.
  • Romney’s taxes prove he’s not fit to be president based on his own words.

These are interesting times.

And on every side of every single one of those points there are voices shouting that it proves something and other voices shouting that it proves the exact opposite.

It’s enough to make your head spin. Ah, spin. That word is also interesting.

I have a different sort of question about all of this, though: Where Mitt Romney is concerned, what kind of “charity” are we talking about?

An analysis (by Business Insider) shows in years 2009 and 2010 the “vast majority” (approx. 80 percent) of Romney’s charitable contributions were directed to the Mormon Church.

As always, where Romney is concerned, the financials get rather complicated. The donations take the form of tithes and other contributions, like stock donations.

Interestingly, though, if you set aside Romney’s contribution to his own church, suddenly Obama has the higher rate of charitable contributions. And that’s not exactly the same narrative they want to be sold. Factor in that wee little fact and suddenly Obama’s rate of charitable giving becomes four times higher than Romney’s.

So the question becomes: Is giving to your own church the same as giving to a “charity?”

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