On this morning's edition of The Chris Matthews Show, panelist Kathleen Parker claimed that Mitt Romney has “give[n] away ”42 percent of his income, compared to Obama, who gave away 1 percent to charity."
PARKER: Fairness, if you can frame the debate around fairness, you win. And all polling will tell you that. But the conversation that needs to take place is what is fairness? Let's define that. Is it fair to say, oh Mitt Romney gives away more money than most people earn? He didn't have to give away 42 percent of his income, compared to Obama, who gave away 1 percent to charity. I mean, let's really talk about what fairness is.
Parker is clearly suggesting that Romney gave 42 percent of his income to charity. But that 42 percent figure comes from her Washington Post colleague Jennifer Rubin, and represents the amount the Romneys estimate they will pay in 2011 in charity and federal, state, and local taxes. Obviously, Mitt Romney did have to “give away” the money he paid in taxes, unless he wanted to violate the law. In 2011, the Romneys estimate they gave 19.2 percent of adjusted gross income to charity.
In comparing the 42 percent figure to “Obama, who gave away 1 percent to charity,” Parker is linking the percentage of their income the Romneys paid in taxes and charitable contributions in 2011 to the percentage the Obamas gave to charity from 2000-2004 - a true apples-to-oranges evaluation. (In 2010 -- the most recent year for which the Obamas have released their tax returns -- the Obamas donated 14.2 percent of their income before tax deductions and exemptions to charity.)
In fact, the Obamas spent a larger percentage of their income on taxes and charity in 2010 than the Romneys did in either 2010 or in 2011.
In her January 24 blog post, Rubin calculated the 42 percent figure by taking the Romneys' 2011 estimated tax filing, adding their tax payments and charitable contributions together, and then dividing it by Adjusted Gross Income. Here's her math:
Another way of looking at it is that in 2011 the Romneys paid out 42 percent of their income in taxes and charity. Here's how I got there: Total tax (line 60) + foreign taxes (line 47) + state taxes and real-estate taxes + other taxes (Schedule A, line 9) + charitable contributions (Schedule A, line 19) divided by Adjusted Gross Income (1040 line 37).
Rubin's calculations showed that the Romneys paid out 42 percent of their income in 2011.
Using the numbers from Romney's 2010 tax return, this math shows that the Romneys paid out 32.44 percent of their income in 2010.
Line 60: $3,009,766
Line 47: $129,697
Schedule A, line 9: $898,946
Schedule A, line 19: $2,983,974
1040 line 37: $21,646,507
=0.3244 or 32.44 percent
What neither Rubin nor Kathleen Parker mentioned: if you do the exact same math on the Obamas' tax return for 2010, you find that the Obamas paid out 46.25 percent of their income.
Here's the math using the numbers on the Obamas' tax return:
Line 60: $453,770
Line 47: $22,215
Schedule A, line 9: $78,269
Schedule A, line 19: $245,075
1040 line 37: $1,728,096
.4625, or 46.25 percent