Why won’t Mitt Romney make his tax returns public?
Rick Perry wants Mitt Romney to cough up his form 1040s (that’s the US individual tax return document). The Romney camp demurred, saying they would consider doing so next year. (Remarkably, Romney has NEVER released, even during his governorship of Massachusetts.)
Why won’t Romney do it? Speculation, from liberal group ThinkProgress and others, is that Romney pays a way lower tax rate than many Americans because of his extensive financial investments, from which income is typically taxed below that of regular income. One left-leaning analyst speculates Romney paid an effective tax rate as low as 14 percent on his $6.6 million to $40 million in income. (The range is so wide because of the imprecise nature of Romney’s very limited disclosures.)
To put that in perspective: In 2011, a married couple filing together would have to make under $69,000 to have their top tax rate be 15 percent. Uber-rich Warren Buffett says he pays 17 percent in taxes.
One point in Romney’s favor: The average federal income tax rate for all Americans was 11.06 percent in 2009. Nearly half of Americans pay no federal income tax, a point that hasn’t gone unmentioned in GOP presidential debates.
Why is this brouhaha important? As Decoder wrote earlier this week, Democrats and Republicans alike could be trying to “Gore” (as in Al) Mitt Romney as wooden, politically inconsistent and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans. Paying a lower share of your income taxes than most if not all of your competitors for the presidency and a number of middle class Americans would help those attack lines along.
Moreover, if predictions about Mitt Romney’s tax situation are true, he would have to go in front of ordinary Americans at every debate, town hall and rope line saying he was looking out for their interests while paying a vastly lower amount of his substantial wealth in taxes…