Does Mitt Romney Pay A Way Lower Tax Rate Than Many Americans?

Is my headline why Mitt Romney will not release his tax returns?

Now to be honest I have not resolved in my mind, after decades of following politics, if a candidate should be ‘forced’ to release tax returns before becoming a party’s nominee.   There are all sorts of reasons to ponder this, and after many elections cycles I have come to no firm conclusion.

What I do know is that the perception as to why a candidate does not release returns can be as bad perhaps as the numbers on the forms.

Which leads me to Mitt Romney, and his tax returns.

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.


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