The April 26 letter "Tax rates for the rich not what they seem" by Ron Woerner seems to indicate some confusion regarding the actual amount of income tax paid by low-income couples. He stated "the Romneys paid only 14 percent, their effective tax rate, putting them in the same bracket as a married couple earning $17,000."
Referring to 2011 Form 1040 instructions, page 8, married couples filing jointly with an income up to $19,000 do not even have to file a return. This is further clarified by looking at the 1040 U.S. tax return form, page 2, which shows that the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly is $11,600 and personal exemptions are $3,700 for each. Added together the total is again $19,000 and zero tax for Mr. Woerner's married couple example. His claiming that they are in a 14 percent bracket is totally wrong. Could this be another attempt to unfairly attack the rich for "not paying their fair share" and show incorrectly that low-income taxpayers pay too much?
Even if the $17,000 is assumed to be taxable income, by adding standard deduction and personal exemptions, the gross income becomes $36,000, the tax is $1,704, and effective tax rate is 4.7 percent, not 14 percent.
The Romneys' 2011 tax return shows an adjusted gross income of $13,696,951, including capital gains of $6,810,176 (50 percent taxable). Itemized deductions were $4,681,842, including charitable donations of $4,020,772. Their taxable income was taxed at approximately 35 percent and resulted in them paying $1,935,708 in income tax. Do the math. We could use more rich people paying high taxes like the Romneys to help support those who pay little or none.