Green Room

Did PolitiFact lie about Romney’s taxes?

posted at 11:18 am on August 14, 2012 by

The Obama campaign is running an ad claiming that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than that of the average American.  Following the ad’s release, PolitiFact published an article rating it as “Half-True.”  From the article:

There are two main ways to make this calculation, and they lead to opposite conclusions. While we believe that including payroll taxes in the calculation offers a more accurate picture of what the American public pays the IRS, it’s also true that the Obama ad didn’t specify which measurement it was using, and in fact used a figure for Romney — 14 percent — that was based on income taxes alone. On balance, then, we rate the claim Half True.

Unfortunately for PolitiFact, their analysis completely misses the boat.  First, as pointed out by Just Facts in rebutting FactCheck.org last week, Romney pays substantial corporate taxes, something both FactCheck.org and PolitiFact fail to account for in their respective analyses.  According to Just Facts President James Agresti in a phone discussion:

Just Facts and the nationwide accounting firm Ceterus did a detailed analysis based on Romney’s 2010 federal tax returns. We found that when accounting for all federal taxes, Romney pays a 1.6 to 2.3 times higher rate than that of the average American.

Why is this important?  As the Congressional Budget Office notes, “[u]nder CBO’s assumption, the highest income quintile paid almost 80 percent of the corporate income tax during the 2007-2009 period.”  Clearly, this is very relevant to Romney’s tax rate.

Second, the PolitiFact analysis ignores data cited by its own resource.  The article cites the Tax Policy Center to look at what tax levels are at for all income quintiles.  However, PolitiFact fails to note that the Center’s chart (the same one cited in the article) shows that the top 1% (which Romney definitely falls into) pay 7.7% of their income into the corporate tax structure.

What does this mean?  It means Romney pays a far higher tax rate than that which PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and Obama claim.  It means the Obama ad is “Pants on Fire” false.  And it means that PolitiFact either needs a better fact-checker or is being purposefully dishonest.

Note: I reached out to a PolitiFact editor with a request for comment about these inaccuracies, but as of publishing time had not received a response.

[Originally posted at the American Thinker blog.]

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Or maybe it is just more proof that the tax code is so f’ed up no one can accurately determine what someone might or should pay in taxes.

But rest assured, Romney payed more than the 50% who pay nothing at all, or get a credit back from the government…

Snowblind on August 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Note: I reached out to a PolitiFact editor with a request for comment about these inaccuracies, but as of publishing time had not received a response.

So Dusty, maybe when you “reached out” your arm wasn’t long enough to touch them or get their attention. Did you try wiggling your hand? Actually, I wasn’t aware you all worked in the same room as the Politifact people. Does that present any sort of conflict of interest? Why didn’t you just try calling the editor on the phone or sending an email?

woodNfish on August 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM

WoodNfish,

I don’t quite understand the need for your sarcasm, but I left a voice message.

Dustin Siggins on August 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM

I applaud you for reaching out. No sarcasm there, believe me. After all, there’s always a chance, rare though it may be, that Politifact will provide you a truthful answer, one not out of the libertard’s little red book: The Sayings of Obamao. It’s just that Politifact has a well earned reputation for not making an honest effort to report facts that might reflect badly on liberals or Obamao. Hardly the same ethical treatment is applied to conservatives. Politifact wouldn’t recognize and true and accurate fact if it bit them on the back end. Not that they’d actually look for it.

rpjkw11 on August 14, 2012 at 12:20 PM

People have a hard time wrapping their head around marginal taxes (add them up), SE taxes, payroll taxes, state, local and property taxes, because when you add them all up they are a lot higher than just the percentage rate of only your federal tax bill without anything else.

The really really funny thing is, that with interest rates so low, or with some investments that don’t give you a return this year, or hardly any dividends, you can put your money FOR SURE into something that gives you little or no interest to claim on your taxes. You can hold a whole pile of your own money and hardly pay a dime. That is what the elderly are doing right now, because of risk. They are perhaps losing to inflation, but that is not the concern of the big jealous eyes watching their money. Then when people say, “They are so wealthy why don’t they have a big tax bill?” Answer: because none of the money was income this year. A lot of people on the other side think we should tax your wealth/assets. They of course are economic illiterates, but it explains why they think the wealthy are not paying their fair share.

Fleuries on August 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM

PolitiFact should be renamed PolitiFalse.

Conservalicious on August 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM

I think anyone in a small business can tell you that taxes and regulations eat you alive. There is something wrong with paying corp taxes and dividend taxes when you work at the company you own.

aniptofar on August 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM

WoodNfish,

I don’t quite understand the need for your sarcasm, but I left a voice message.

Dustin Siggins on August 14, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Then just say so Dustin and stop with the overly cute, touchy-feely writing. It isn’t accurate and it is becoming a cliche, not quite as bad as using “impact” in place of “effect”, but close.

And I apologize for calling you “Dusty” instead of “Dustin”.

woodNfish on August 14, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Then just say so Dustin and stop with the overly cute, touchy-feely writing. It isn’t accurate and it is becoming a cliche, not quite as bad as using “impact” in place of “effect”, but close.

I think you need to change your nickname here to “woodNhead”. The phrasing used to describe trying to contact politifact is pretty standard English, and has been used in other places. If you have trouble understanding it, maybe you need to take a class or three? Or maybe just learn to be less of a DB.

Vancomycin on August 14, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Politifact is a brainchild of the commies at The St. Petersburg Times (NY Slimes South)in the Tampa Bay area and 1. cannot be trusted and 2. are a very democrat party lean biased.

Your wasting your time battling the “Self appointed” arbiters of the(their) truth.

FlaMurph on August 14, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Vancomycin,

Thanks for coming to my defense. I appreciate it.

WoodnFish, the language I used is standard for any journalistic endeavor.

Dustin Siggins on August 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM