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Due Diligence: Would Ryan have Romney pay a 1% tax rate?

(CBS News) President Obama says that Paul Ryan pushed a budget that would have the very wealthy Mitt Romney pay just 1 percent of his income in taxes.

"The centerpiece of Governor Romney's entire economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut, a lot of it going to folks like me, a lot of it going to the wealthiest Americans," he said in Rochester, New Hampshire on Saturday. "His new running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year. That's a pretty good deal, just paying 1 percent in taxes. You're making millions of dollars."

So is it true that Ryan put forth a tax plan that would have had Mitt Romney - who has estimated his worth at up to a quarter billion dollars - pay less than one percent in taxes? It seems to be.

The House budget plan Ryan put forth in 2010 eliminated taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends. Romney made more than $21 million in 2010, the only year he has released his full tax returns - and about 95 percent of it came from those sources. Under Ryan's plan, Romney would only have paid taxes on the less than $1 million he made from other sources, which would be taxed at the new, lower top tax rate of 25 percent. The 2010 Ryan plan would have saved Romney, who paid a 13.9 percent tax rate that year, more than two and a half million dollars.

But that's not the whole story. Newer versions of Ryan's budget plan do not talk specifically about eliminating taxes on capital gains and dividends. That doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't eliminate those taxes if he had the chance. But it does mean that his budget plan for the past two years does not specifically call for them to go.

It's also important to note that Romney has criticized this very idea. In a Republican debate in January, Romney criticized Newt Gingrich by pointing out that under Gingrich's plan to reduce capital gains taxes to zero, he "would have paid no taxes in the last two years." Romney's own tax plan would eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains for those who make less than $200,000 - but keep them at the current rate for people who make more than that, including himself. 

So President Obama's claim that Ryan once put out a plan that would have Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes is true. But that is not a part of Ryan's latest plan, and it isn't Romney's plan. You can certainly make the case that Ryan's 2010 budget reflects the Republican belief that taxes on the rich should be reduced. But you can't say Romney is pushing a plan that would cut his taxes to less than one percent.

Thanks for watching.

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