After taking heat in South Carolina for failing to do so, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shared his tax returns from 2010 and the estimates for 2011 with the media and the public on Tuesday, posting the forms online.
As the GOP presidential candidate had hinted last week, most of the income he earns comes from investments rather than wages or salary and therefore he pays a lower federal rate than most of the country's top earners.
In 2010, he reported earning $21.7 million in income and paying $3 million in federal taxes, a rate of about 14 percent. The estimates for 2011 show him earning about $20.9 million in income and paying $3.2 million, a rate of about 15.4 percent. The couple also pays state taxes in Massachusetts, Romney tax advisers said during a media call on Tuesday.
He and his wife, Ann, also reported donating about $7 million to charity over the same two years, mostly to the Mormon church, which totals more than they paid in federal taxes.
And while the top marginal rate for salaries is 35 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center the average effective rate paid by the wealthiest 1 percent of American taxpayers is 18.5 percent – still higher than what Romney pays. According to their own releases for 2010, President Barack Obama paid a 26 percent federal tax rate and GOP rival former House Speaker Newt Gingrich paid 31.6 percent.
Romney campaign officials also emphasized that the presidential candidate was paying all the taxes he was legally obligated to.
But in a race framed largely on the struggling economy, the wealthy Romney has struggled to connect with voters, most of whom probably pay a higher tax rate than he does. There's no doubt his campaign does not want this to be a topic of discussion moving forward, though the candidate finally hit on a coherent message when talking about it during Monday night's debate.
"I will not apologize for my success," Romney said.