Mitt Romney gave a lot of money away to charity. Phil Klein explains

Typically, liberal rhetoric on taxes makes it seem as if the wealthy are getting a free ride on the backs of middle and lower-income Americans who are doing all the work and are really paying the taxes. But to put things on perspective, here’s what $3.2 million in federal taxes — Romney’s estimated 2011 burden — pays for:

— The monthly food stamp allowance for about 23,909 people.

— The cost of educating 302 elementary and high school students.

— The base salary (before bonuses and allowances) of 178 privates in the U.S. Army.

— The federal contribution to the benefits of 636 Medicaid enrollees.

In addition to his taxes, Romney has given around 16.4 percent of his income over the past two years to charity through his family charity, the Tyler Foundation. In addition to donations to the Mormon church, here’s where else Romney and his wife Ann donated money: the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, the Center for the Treatment of Pediatric MS, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Homes for Our Troops, and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, among others.

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).

Let’s compare this percentage to that of average Americans. A 2009 Urban Institute study found: “The average charitable contribution per return filed in 2009 was about 2.0 percent of [adjusted gross] income.”

As for the effective marginal rate, Jim Pethokoukis writes: “While Romney’s tax rate is — in his own words — ‘probably closer to 15 percent than anything,’ that’s still higher than the 8.2 percent average effective income tax rate (as of 2010) of U.S. households (once you factor in various tax credits). Indeed, nearly half of U.S. households pay no income tax at all. Their average effective tax rate is actually negative. Even if you add in the payroll tax, the effective tax rate of the middle fifth of U.S. taxpayers is 12.8 percent.”

So, yes, Romney is much wealthier than most Americans. But he also gives away or pays in taxes in absolute and percentage terms far more than most Americans.

The media is obsessed with Romney’s wealth, taking the amount earned as a sign of some moral failing in the U.S. economic system. But in fact what we see is that the income tax code is already very progressive (the rich pay a higher percentage than less-rich taxpayers). And in Romney’s case, the amount of his income given (or taken) away suggests that at least this particular wealthy American does more than his fair share for society.

More on the GOP campaign from Right Turn

Mitt Romney’s taxes: Really, what’s the problem?

Florida debate: Romney on the offensive, Gingrich listless

Romney: Time to take it to Newt

Newt requires cheers? That’ll be problematic in the general election.

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