Tax Break

Who’s the poorest of the presidential candidates?

February 16, 2012

Rick Santorum addresses the Detroit Economic Club, February 16, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

One thing Rick Santorum’s tax returns, released late on Wednesday, made clear: None of the leading presidential candidates fits into the 99 percent of the populist Occupy Wall Street movement.

Santorum told Politico he isn’t rich. “I don’t have wealth,” he said.

Well, perhaps compared to frontrunner Mitt Romney’s estimated $22 million income in 2010. Still, with an income of nearly $1 million in 2010, Santorum is comfortably in the top 1 percent of Americans.

Santorum’s adjusted gross income of about $924,000 in 2010 was the lowest of the major Republicans vying to take on President Barack Obama so far, and significantly less than Obama himself, who pulled in a cool $1.7 million – most of which came from his bestselling books.

Santorum’s wealth rose swiftly after he left the Senate in 2006, where he made a Senate salary of about $165,000. His first year out in 2007, racked up nearly $660,000.

Most of the income from his four years of the newly released returns came from his consulting business, Excelsior. Much of that work relates to his ties made after years in Washington, on issues from health to energy policy.

Santorum, who has been surging in some polls to a neck-and-neck race with Romney, paid a relatively high tax rate — about 29 percent in 2010, compared with Mitt Romney’s 14 percent – highlighting a stark divergence between income taxed at the top 35 percent “ordinary” tax rate and investment income taxed at 15 percent, the source of much of Romney’s wealth.

Santorum’s effective tax rate was precisely the average of all federal taxes paid by those earning more than $1 million, according to the Tax Policy Center.Of all the candidates, Santorum gave the least to charity in 2010 – less than 2 percent. Romney and Obama both gave about 14 percent of their fortunes away, while Republican Newt Gingrich gave less than 3 percent, figures from their 2010 returns show.

Several tax policy experts found nothing unusual in Santorum’s tax returns, though one has to wonder how much of the $4,000 deduction he took in 2007 for used clothing and other donations was for Santorum’s trademark sweater vests!

Here is a candidate-by-candidate comparison of tax returns.

4 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

What about Ron Paul?

Posted by DCJ2012 | Report as abusive

Wow, this article really snubbed Ron Paul. Personally, not a supporter, but really come on. Got to give credit where it’s due, especially considering Ron Paul may indeed be the poorest Republican presidential candidate.

Posted by nate878 | Report as abusive

I noticed you didn’t show the wealth of Ron Paul. I am not a supporter but I thought it could have been he is already dismissed as a viable candidate.

Posted by buzzquick | Report as abusive

There is a quote from the Gladiator film that comes to mind “I don’t pretend to be a man OF the people. I do, however, aim to be a man FOR the people”.

I see Barrack’s gains from the books as incidental. He spent time as a commnity lawyer. He is a man FOR the people. Pity that had a lame duck first term.

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

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