Romney returns released

posted at 9:15 am on January 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Mitt Romney has released his tax returns for 2010 and 2011 (estimated) today, fulfilling a promise made this week after fumbling the issue last week in two debates.  He gave the Washington Post an advance look at the returns yesterday, allowing the media to report the topline numbers before the debate and taking the steam out of the issue by the time Brian Williams first cleared his throat in Florida. The toplines contain no surprises at all:

Mitt Romney offered a partial snapshot of his vast personal fortune late Monday, disclosing income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million last year — virtually all of it profits, dividends or interest from investments.

None came from wages, the primary source of income for most Americans. Instead,Romney and his wife, Ann, collected millions in capital gains from a profusion of investments, as well as stock dividends and interest payments. …

For 2011, Romney estimates that he will pay about $3.2 million, for an effective rate of 15.4 percent. That’s in line with his earlier estimates, but sharply lower than the rates paid by President Obama and Romney’s closest Republican rival, Newt Gingrich.

But as the Post reports, it still left plenty of time for some class-warfare attacks from across the aisle:

“The president believes that it is not fair — inherently not fair — that those who are millionaires and billionaires pay at a lower rate than average Americans who are struggling to get by,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday. “This theme about economic insecurity for the middle class . . . is what got this president into politics. So this is a foundational belief for him, and he’s happy to have that debate.”

Not only is this cheap class-warfare nonsense, it’s also flat-out false — unless Obama has proposed at some point treating capital gains differently than income.  He has talked at times of raising the cap-gains rate from 15% to 20%, but that will still put cap-gains at “a lower rate than average Americans who are struggling to get by.”  Obama’s so-called “millionaire’s tax” surcharge wouldn’t have applied to Romney either, because that was a surcharge on income, not capital gains.  If Obama wanted to have that debate with Romney, he’d shortly be exposed as either a hypocrite or an idiot.

Romney paid the exact same rate as anyone else on capital gains.  Had an average household made money on capital gains — and some might on smaller investments in portfolios — they would pay the exact same rate on cap-gains as Romney did.  We treat capital gains differently because (a) that money got taxed elsewhere at an income rate in most cases, and (b) we want to provide an incentive for risk.  Capital investment is a significant risk, much more so than income derived from sitting on capital and deriving interest.  We want people to put their capital to work instead of sitting on it.  That’s what Romney did, and he’s paying the tax rate on the reward for taking risk.

That’s really the only thing of interest in Romney’s tax returns, and it’s entirely unsurprising that this White House went out of its way to get it wrong.

Update: Allahpundit e-mails me this tidbit that will get some attention:

Mitt Romney had a Swiss bank account. You’re welcome, Democratic National Committee.

The Republican presidential contender, who released his tax forms Tuesday morning under pressure from his fellow candidates and the media, avoided some of the embarrassing pitfalls that can come with opening one’s financial portfolio for public inspection. But in doing so, Romney handed Democratic opposition researchers a trove of new data that will surely show up in attack ads this fall, if he’s lucky enough to be the GOP nominee.

He had accounts in the Caymans and Bermuda, too, but there’s one problem with the attack in this case — or actually, more than one:

And the way Romney keeps his money will help paint that picture. Romney’s tax forms show he had a bank account in Switzerland, which he closed in 2010, and accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. All three have reputations as offshore havens where the extremely wealthy keep their cash, sometimes to avoid paying taxes (Romney actually did pay taxes on those accounts, but that minor detail may be left out of any attack ads).

Still, it could have been worse. Romney donated nearly $3 million to charitable causes in 2010 and more than $4 million in 2011, including at least $4.1 million to the Mormon Church. That’s better than some politicians, whose tax forms show they didn’t bother to give money to those less fortunate than themselves (Think Vice President Joe Biden, who gave an average of just $369 a year to charity, according to ten years of tax returns the Obama campaign made public in September 2008).

Yeah, Romney didn’t shelter the money at all; he paid the taxes due.  And if the White House wants to get into attacks over stingy rich men, they’re going to find themselves outgunned.


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Marxism is alive and well on HotAir!

d1carter on January 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

I mean it’s unsavory to tax a working man at 40% while Willard, Lord Romney sits at home in his La Jolla estate, paying only 15%.

Emperor Norton on January 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM

It is more than unsavory. It is imaginary. Or are you including FICA into the equation? Even them it seems quite unlikely that any working stiff is actually paying 40% except at the margin.

I guess if you include Fed Income, FICA(both employee and company sides), State Income, Property, Excise and sales taxes, you might get to 40%. But I wouldn’t count in it.

For the Feds, The CBO did try to consolidate the complete tax burden by quintile. They did include both sides of FICA and many other income sources and taxes. Its a little dated(2006) but that does cover the major tax code changes.

http://www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/tax/2009/effective_rates.pdf

OBQuiet on January 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Where is Inquisitor Newt? We need to get to the bottom of this!

Ruiner on January 24, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Let’s see if I get this right. People on here are disgusted that Romney paid ONLY 15% of his income in taxes. That’s cap gains tax, either raise it or quite grousing! He also gave almost $7 million to charity – I don’t see many comments about that.

In the meantime, the headline on Fox News right now is that memnbers of Congress owe over $10.6 million in back taxes JUST for 2010 and 98,000 federal workers owe in excess of $1 Billion. How many in the cabinet and primary jobs in Obama’s administration have had tax violations?

Uh, right. They are almost all Democrats, so they get a free pass.

SubDoc on January 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM

What strikes me after seeing Mitt’s tax returns is… it’s incredible he is putting himself out there by running for president. Reading the garbage spewed on this site and in the mainstream media, I’m amazed a man who has clearly been successful in every aspect of his life: as a husband, father, and businessman is willing to run. Not many would have done it…

PKinMI on January 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM

You guys are more than welcome to be as intelligent and work as hard as Mitt Romney and run your own investment firm so your future income can mostly derive a 15% tax rate. He did so without utilizing inheritance, so go get em. You just have to work your way through two advanced degrees in both finance and law and work your way up a consulting firm while showing the leadership potential to be trusted with a firm that handles billions.

I mean seriously, you guys are are mad that he’s successful and earns a lower tax rate risking his capital in investments? Stupidity and jealousy are attributes I thought were limited to the left, but Newt fans surprise again.

Kriggly on January 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Says who? Says Hannity?

No, I would say that a low capital gains tax rate generates asset inflation.

Emperor Norton on January 24, 2012 at 1:12 PM

*sigh* Says just about any reputable economist other than Paul Krugman. Look it up or–if you want to really stretch your preconceptions–read an Econ 101 textbook.

You’ve lost the argument, class war hero. Give it up.

btw, I find your ‘Emperor Norton’ username fitting since I know Norton is something of a hero to the San Francisco Left: delusional, grandiose, completely convinced of his own majesty in spite of all evidence to the contrary. My personal hero would be the guy who grabbed Norton by the collar, slapped him in the face, and told him to come to his senses and grow the hell up.

Unicorns aren’t real.

troyriser_gopftw on January 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Turbo tax automatically completes the forms with the approriate tax rate and nothing more.

Someone should tell Tim Geithner.

Wagthatdog on January 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM

work as hard as Mitt Romney and run your own investment firm so your future income can mostly derive a 15% tax rate

When Willard was going after big bucks at Bain, in the 1980s, the top long-term capital gains tax rate was 20% (1982-86), then 28% (1987)–not 15%. The top tax rate on dividends was 50% (1986), then 38.5% (1987)–not 15%. So, Willard didn’t need a 15% rate as an incentive, did he?

But consider how business-savvy Romney must have been to forsee a day, about 15 years later, when he would be taxed at a lower rate than he thought he was going to be taxed when he was building the business in the 1980s!

Emperor Norton on January 24, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Whew! Thank God Mittens had a couple of years to clean up the appearance of his finances.

Dave Rywall on January 24, 2012 at 3:17 PM

If we’re going to look at large incomes, what about Hollywood stars? Romney can’t touch what they make, even if they did get taxed at a higher rate. For example, Johnny Depp made $100 million last year alone.

If they’re going to start a class warfare fight, how about the Hollywood elite with their multiple mansions and private islands against the rest of us?

Of course, they won’t do that since most of the Hollywood elite back Obama and hosts his $38,000/plate fundraisers.

Common Sense on January 24, 2012 at 3:19 PM

If we’re going to look at large incomes, what about Hollywood stars? Romney can’t touch what they make, even if they did get taxed at a higher rate. For example, Johnny Depp made $100 million last year alone.

If they’re going to start a class warfare fight, how about the Hollywood elite with their multiple mansions and private islands against the rest of us?

Of course, they won’t do that since most of the Hollywood elite back Obama and hosts his $38,000/plate fundraisers.

Common Sense on January 24, 2012 at 3:19 PM
———-
they won’t do what
to whom
what class warfare fight

this is hilarious

Dave Rywall on January 24, 2012 at 3:24 PM

So I read that Romney gave 15% to charity and cheapskate Obama only gave 1%. What do they mean? Romney gave only millions to charity. His Benevolence gave billions of our money to entitlements WH staff cronies unions political appointees greenscams China charity.

stukinIL4now on January 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Why do the great ppl of hot air continue to give trolls a stage? PLEASE explain this to me, we all know who they are, yet daily I see other commenter’s arguing with these idiots!

angrymike on January 24, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Shut up. Not everyone wants an echo chamber.

BedBug on January 24, 2012 at 4:37 PM

That dreaded LEMMING bacterial disease, Mhit-For-Brains is spreading!!! Get the antidote NOW!!! Inoculate yourselves with Newt Skywalker!?!

Colatteral Damage on January 24, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3