Fact Checking the President’s Tax Claims

September 28, 2011

It seems the President has decided to join along with Warren Buffett in decrying the fact that his (considerable) income is (unfairly) taxed at a lower rate than most middle-class Americans. In a recent speech, he suggested that his effective tax rate was lower than someone earning $50,000. It’s a potentially compelling talking point – that is, if it were true. Cut to Brooks Jackson of FactCheck.org in USA Today:

President Obama’s claim that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher making $50,000 a year isn’t true. A single taxpayer with $50,000 of income would have paid 11.9 percent in federal income taxes for 2010, while the Obamas paid more than twice that rate — 25.3 percent (and higher rates than that in 2009 and 2008). And if the $50,000-a-year teacher were in Obama’s tax situation — supporting a spouse and two children — he or she would have paid no federal income taxes at all.

Of course, Brooks did have a little help from one of the Tax Foundation’s analysts:

A family like the Obamas — with two children under age 17 — would actually have received a $37 tax refund in 2010 on income of $50,000, thanks largely to the $1,000 per child tax credit and Obama’s $800 “Making Work Pay” tax credit. Those are our calculations, which we confirmed with Nick Kasprak, an analyst at the Tax Foundation.

Read more about income taxes here.


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