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Post Partisan
Posted at 09:27 AM ET, 09/18/2012

Four questions for Mitt Romney

(1) Under the federal tax code, a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 will pay no federal income tax because the standard deduction and exemptions reduce their taxable income to zero. The Tax Policy Center has explained that this reflects components of “the basic progressive income tax structure that intend to exempt subsistence levels of income from tax and to adjust for differences in ability to pay based on family size. “

Do you disagree with that approach? Do you believe that this family’s tax burden is too low? If so, how would you raise it?  Eliminate the deduction for children?  Raise marginal rates? Make the tax code less progressive?

(2) Of the 47 percent of households that do not owe federal income taxes, two thirds pay payroll taxes that amount to 7.6 percent of income.  Indeed, under standard economic theory, the employer’s side of those payroll taxes also comes from their income — meaning that their 15 percent tax rate compares roughly to your 13.9 percent effective rate in 2010, the year for which you’ve released returns.  And, of course, these households pay state and local sales and property taxes, plus federal gasoline and other excise taxes.

In what way do you believe these households are failing to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives”?

 (3) Of the 18 percent of households that pay neither income nor payroll taxes, most are elderly (10 percent of households).  

What do you believe these elderly households should do to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives?” Do you support repealing special tax benefits for the elderly, such as the extra standard deduction, the tax credit for low-income seniors and the exclusion of a portion of Social Security benefits from taxation?

(4) Another 7 percent are households earning less than $20,000 a year.  That seems like a far cry from the 47 percent  you describe as “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

But I’m confused about where you stand, because you have also said, "I'm concerned about the poor in this country. We have to make sure the safety net is strong and able to help those who can't help themselves."

Do you believe in a safety net or not?

By  |  09:27 AM ET, 09/18/2012

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