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John Kerry Actually Had a Lower Tax Rate Than Romney

The Atlantic
John Kerry Actually Had a Lower Tax Rate Than Romney

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John Kerry Actually Had a Lower Tax Rate Than Romney

In a bit of Democratic comeuppance for dinging Mitt Romney for how little he pays in taxes, Wonkblog published this chart of presidential candidates' tax rates. And wouldn't you know, John Kerry had a (slightly) lower tax rate than Romney does. In 2003, a year before running for president, Kerry's tax rate was 13.1 percent, versus Romney's at 13.9 percent in 2010. As Brad Plumer, who culled together tax returns to make his chart, explains, "John Kerry’s overall rate is so low — lower than Romney’s, in fact — because his return is getting lumped together with that of his (wealthy) wife, Teresa Heinz, who had a lot of investment income." (On his own, Kerry's tax rate is 22.9 percent.)

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That's that very same sort of lowly-taxed "investment income" that Romney's been criticized for during the 2012 campaign. And it's an income stream that the rich tend to earn a high proportion of their income from. So like Romney, Kerry has been knocked for having a rich guy's low tax rate because of investment income, as this 2006 ad shows. And there's the whole business of Kerry docking the ultimate rich-person thing (his yacht) in Rhode Island instead of Massachusetts to avoid taxes. What Romney's and Kerry's stories show: any time the wealthy run for high office, they'll inevitably be reprimanded for the low taxes they (more likely than not) pay.

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