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Experts: Dems, GOP exaggerating tax claims

WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- The Democratic and Republican debate over increasing the amount the wealthiest Americans are taxed is misleading on both sides, some tax experts say.

Democrats, in support of the so-called "Buffet rule," argue Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a tax rate of around 15 percent over the past two tax years whereas the middle class has been taxed as much as 30 percent, McClatchy Newspapers reported Sunday.

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"It's stretching things to suggest that 30 percent is what's paid by middle-income taxpayers," said Roberton Williams, a senior researcher at the Tax Policy Center, a joint effort between the centrist Urban Institute and the center-left Brookings Institution.

About 52 percent of all tax returns filed were filed in 2009 by Americans earning between $15,000 and $75,000 -- they would fall into a 15 percent to 25 percent tax bracket. The non-partisan Tax Foundation said those Americans actually paid anywhere from 1 percent to 7 percent of their income in federal taxes.

Republicans, though, are overstating what rich Americans are paying as a percentage, said Leonard Burman, a Syracuse University professor and a leading tax thinker. Many wealthy Americans live off of capital gains and dividends from investments.

"A lot of capital gains are not taxed at all, postponed for quite a while, even indefinitely. If you hold them until you die, you don't pay at all," he said.

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