WASHINGTON - Pressuring Mitt Romney on taxes, President Obama's campaign rereleased more than a decade of tax records Friday, a political maneuver designed to pressure the Republican presidential candidate to divulge tax records beyond two years and to stop "hiding" details of his huge personal wealth.
Obama's own tax return for last year showed that he and his wife paid $162,074 in federal taxes on $789,674 in adjusted gross income, an effective tax rate of 20.5 percent. Their income plunged from $1.7 million in 2010, with declining sales of the president's books. In 2009, the Obamas reported income of $5.5 million, fueled by the best-selling books.
Romney's campaign has projected he will pay more than $6.2 million in taxes on $45 million in income in 2010 and 2011 but has not released tax information prior to the past two years. Romney is expected to pay 15.4 percent in federal taxes for 2011 on income mostly derived from investments, based on his tax estimate for the year.
Romney on Friday asked for an extension for the actual filing of his 2011 return, as he has in the past, and his campaign said he would file and release that return before the November election.
Obama's campaign rereleased tax documents dating to 2000 with the aim of forcing Romney to release a similar trove. A Romney spokeswoman shot back that Obama was saddled with a terrible record on job creation and was trying to distract Americans "with a series of sideshows."
Obama's 20.5 percent tax rate for 2011 was a bit lower than the average for a family in their income range, but higher than the rate paid by most Americans. The Obamas helped lower their tax bill by making $172,130 in charitable donations, which were the majority of their itemized deductions.
Families making between $500,000 and $1 million will pay an average of 24.3 percent of their income in federal taxes for 2011, according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.
By comparison, families making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 12 percent, while families making between $75,000 and $100,000 will pay an average of 15.5 percent.
By contrast, the top rate for taxpayers with high incomes derived from wages, not investments, is 35 percent.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said Romney's "defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question - what does he have to hide?"
Former Michigan Gov. George Romney released 12 years of tax documents when he sought the 1968 GOP presidential nomination.
Mitt Romney had not pledged to do the same. As for this year, his spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the former Massachusetts governor would "release his full 2011 return when it is filed."
Obama and Romney are both at a different income level than most Americans. The median household income in 2010 was $49,445, according to the Census Bureau.
By the numbers
Adjusted gross income for President Obama's family in 2011
Federal taxes paid by the Obamas in 2011
Effective tax rate paid by the Obamas in 2011
Projected income for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2010 and 2011
Sources: Office of the President of the United States, Mitt Romney campaign