FLORENCE, S.C. - Mitt Romney revealed for the first time today that his effective tax rate is "closer to 15 percent," suggesting that he pays less in taxes than many middle income Americans despite being worth an estimated $250 million.
"What's the effective rate I've been paying? It's probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything," Romney said during a press conference after an early morning rally. "Because my last 10 years, I've…my income comes overwhelmingly from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or earned annually. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. And then I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much."
According to his personal financial disclosure report released in August, Romney was paid more than $370,000 for speaking appearances in the 2011-2011 filing period.
Under pressure by his rivals to release his tax returns, a move he said during last night's Fox News/WSJ debate he will not take before April, Romney today offered a rare glimpse into what the coveted documents may reveal. What Romney admitted is exactly what billionaire Warren Buffet has railed against - the fact that many multi-millionaires actually pay far less in taxes than the people who work for them.
In addition to hinting at his tax rate, Romney suggested that if he does release his returns, he will only release those from 2011 and not those from years prior.
"In prior races for president the tradition has been that the nominee releases his tax returns in tax season, in April," Romney said. "And I know that if I'm the nominee, people will want to see the most recent year, and see what happened in the most recent year and what things are up to date, and so they'll want to see the tax returns that come out in April, so rather than sort of have multiple releases of tax returns, why…we'll wait until the tax returns for the most recent year are completed, then release them."
In addressing his differing positions from former Sen. Rick Santorum and former former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Romney said that he is opposed to Gingrich's plan to eliminate capital gains tax for high income individuals - the very tax he suggested he pays.
"I also think that the speaker's plan to eliminate the capital gains tax for high income individuals - capital gains, interest and dividends - would not only be a very expensive provision in terms of having to fill an even larger budget hole but that would provide for people of very high income a possibility of no tax at all," said Romney. "You'd have individuals - the Warren Buffet argument - Warren Buffet, Bill Gates would probably pay no taxes at all. Today they probably pay 15 percent."
"Very high-income people of this country pay roughly 15 percent of taxes if their resources are coming from investments, and under their plan it would go to zero," said Romney. "I just don't think that's the right course. I think that with our precious dollars we should focus on providing relief - tax relief - really in two areas: one is for middle-income Americans that have been hurt the most and secondly is to bring our corporate tax rates to a level where we could draw people from other countries to bring their funds into this country."
Romney also addressed how he accounts for the 120,000 jobs he cleaims to have created during his work at Bain Capital, a number he himself offered during last night's debate.
"Let's get the math, alright?" said Romney, who appeared irritated as he was followed to his campaign bus by a crush of reporters.
"Four companies created 120,000 jobs. It's very simple," said Romney. "Four companies created 120,000. Staples, Bright Horizons, Steel Dynamics, and… which one am I missing? Sports Authority. If you look up their 10Ks today, you'll find that they have 120,000 jobs. Those were all businesses I helped get started."
"So those four created about 120,000 jobs," Romney continued. "And then all of those businesses that had been well-documented by various people over the years, when I ran in '94, when I ran last time, when I ran for governor, those that have lost jobs, they end up being a little less than 10,000, those that were losers. So if you took the ones that were losers, and compare with the ones that were, those four, at least, why you end up with something over 100,000."