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TNDP: ‘Haslam’s Federal Income Tax Return Exemplifies Unfair Tax Policies’

Memo from Brandon Puttbrese, Communications Director for the Tennessee Democratic Party, Nov. 15, 2011:

Is Gov. Haslam Tennessee’s poster child for growing inequality and unfair tax policy?


A large majority of Tennesseans favor taxing the wealthy — especially millionaires. On Monday, The Tennessean published findings of a statewide poll, conducted by Vanderbilt University: “More than two-thirds of state residents say they support higher income taxes on millionaires as part of next year’s budget, and nearly as many say they would support raising taxes on people who make $250,000 a year or more.” [The Tennessean, 11/14/11]

WHY? Tennesseans believe in common-sense fairness; the super-rich shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.

But is that happening in Tennessee?


In 2008, Gov. Bill Haslam’s effective federal income tax rate was just 13 percent. According to The Knoxville News Sentinel, a six-year financial summary showed that Haslam and his wife, Crissy, “averaged about $4.75 million in annual income over the period, ending with tax year 2008… also that the Haslams paid an average of just over $622,000 in federal taxes annually…” [Knoxville News Sentinel, 10/9/11]

The Washington Post reported that a quarter of U.S. millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than some middle class workers. [The Washington Post, 10/12/11]

  • Federal marginal tax rates 2008-11 – [, accessed 11/14/11]
  • Single teacher earning $35,000 —— 25 percent
  • Married couple earning $70,000 —— 25 percent
  • Single filer earning as little as $9,000 —— 15 percent


Governor Bill Haslam’s federal income tax return exemplifies the unfair tax policies that over the past 30 years have favored the wealthiest at a cost to working and middle class families. Vanderbilt’s new poll shows that average Tennesseans are keenly aware of the growing inequality and they prefer economic policies that will narrow the gap.

Tennesseans believe in common-sense fairness; police officers and teachers should not be paying higher tax rates than millionaires like Bill Haslam.

It’s time to focus on the basic values that have always been at the heart of American prosperity: making sure that hard work pays, responsibility is rewarded and everyone from Main Street to Wall Street does their fair share. Getting Tennesseans back to work is job one, but our work doesn’t end there. We have to create more opportunities for families to work hard and get ahead. This will require investing in education, innovation, and infrastructure—the types of investments that create jobs today and restore middle class security.

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