One of Mitt Romney’s advisers thinks a tax rate of about 2 percent is just a little too damn high.
Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, asked lawmakers to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies in place during a hearing Thursday. Romney’s chief energy adviser claimed that his company pays taxes at a rate of about 38 percent. The only problem: Continental Resources’ effective tax rate has been more like 2.2 percent over the past five years, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice (h/t ThinkProgress).
Hamm, an Oklahoma oil billionaire, isn’t only Romney’s advisor, though. He’s also a major donor. His total political contributions to campaigns, parties and political action committees exceed the legal limit by 41 percent, according to Reuters.
Tax breaks for the oil and gas industry have been a hot topic in Washington and on the campaign trail, as the candidates look for a way to boost America’s energy independence. At the hearing where Hamm testified, Democrats argued that keeping the breaks in place would essentially be a gift to the sector worth billions of dollars, according to The Hill. While Republicans claimed that the White House has been imposing too many restrictions on the oil industry.
But the breaks have likely allowed companies like Continental Resources to pay taxes at a super-low rate. Chevron pays taxes at a rate of 4 percent and Exxon Mobil pays taxes at a rate of just 2 percent, according to data from NerdWallet.
Still, the oil and gas industry isn’t the only sector paying taxes at a low rate. Major companies like JPMorgan Chase and Google pay taxes at a rate less than 15 percent.
Romney has also received a lot of flack over the amount he pays personally in taxes. Senator Harry Reid accused him of paying zero income taxes over the past 10 years. Romney shot back, saying he didn’t pay taxes at a rate lower than 13 percent during the same period. Nevermind that Romney is a millionaire and middle class households -- which Romney defines as making up to $250,000 -- paid taxes at 16 percent rate in 2010.