Much has been made lately of Mitt Romney's tax returns and his effective tax rate. Is it fair that Mitt pays an effective tax rate of 13.9%, while Warren Buffett's secretary pays double that rate (we still have not seen her return, however)?
We currently have a capital gains tax here in America. Many countries like Argentina, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, etc. do not have any capital gains tax. Our top tax rate is 15% on capital gains here at home.
By all accounts, Mitt Romney has paid the legal taxes due on the money he has earned. He has not broken any laws. He has not been dishonest. He has paid the taxes due on the money he has earned under the current tax code. It's hard to question his honesty and integrity.
Now, if you want to change the tax code, then that is a whole other debate. It is not fair to resent Mr. Romney for paying what was legal and honest under the current code. I have many clients that have invested their money into municipal bonds, so that they can derive income from their investments. They pay NO federal or state taxes on this income. Many of them have an effective tax rate of zero. Is this fair? Is investing in sewers and roads somehow nobler than investing in businesses? Why should we give them such a tax advantage?
Should we resent Mr. Romney for how much money he makes? I don't resent how much Albert Pujols makes when he steps into the batter's box against my favorite team. I don't resent Tim Lincicum's take home pay, when he takes the mound against my San Diego Padres. Nor do I resent how much Johnny Depp gets paid for one of his movies. These folks have become the best at what they do, and there should be no limit as to how much they can make.
How about Mitt Romney's charitable contributions? Should we resent the fact that he pays a ten-percent tithe to his church? Last time I looked Malachi was the last chapter in the Old Testament. It seems to me that Jews, Christians, and Mormons alike, recognize the Old Testament as a canon of scripture.
Was it not Malachi who said, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse...and prove me now herewith...if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." I have found this to be a true principle in my own life. I think that you have seen this principle manifest itself in the life of Mitt Romney.
Furthermore, I submit to you that Mr. Romney counts his real blessings in life as the great family that stands behind him at many of his appearances, and not the monetary treasures that he will have to leave behind some day.
What about the organization that Mitt gives most of his charitable contributions to, the LDS church? Do its leaders live lavish lifestyles and use the money recklessly. The LDS church has no paid ministry, everyone is a volunteer. The church maintains warehouses full of basic needs and is ready at a moment's notice to deliver aid to those in need all over the world. In addition to this, the church has no debt.
Maybe our government can learn something from Mitt Romney and the Mormons.
Follow Bill Gunderson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@billgunderson