FDR, A One-Percenter Tax Avoider

Mitt Romney has taken lots of flack for paying an effective tax rate of about 14 percent on his considerable income of the last few years.  Well, how about Franklin Roosevelt?  Turns out in 1914, the second year of the income tax, he only paid a 1 percent rate on just 7 percent of his total income.  What would Occupy (or Obama) say about this?

This link takes you to a PDF file of FDR’s 1914 return (a partial photo is shown below–click to enlarge), which shows that of a gross income of $14,224.86—over half of which was in the form of stock dividends (he was only paid a salary of $3,958 as assistant secretary of the Navy)—his taxable income after deductions was only $989.67.  At the 1 percent rate, he would have paid only about $10 in income taxes.  (The actual final tax liability is not shown on this incomplete form–just the deduction schedule and FDR’s own handwritten calculations on Navy Dept. letterhead.)  That’s an effective tax rate of 0.06% of his gross income.

So by all means, I’d be for bringing back FDR’s income tax rates for everybody.  Or, to adapt a favorite old liberal editorial page cliché of the 1960s, any country that can land a man on the moon can abolish the income tax.

Now back to my Turbotax file.