Romney paid $3M in federal income tax in 2010

By Stephen Braun

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 24 2012 9:55 a.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters after a discussion on housing and foreclosure, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, in Tampa, Fla.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid about $3 million in federal income taxes in 2010, having earned more than seven times that from his investments. Those earnings, $21.7 million, put him among the wealthiest of American taxpayers. Romney's campaign said Tuesday he followed all tax laws.

At the same time, Romney gave nearly $3 million to charity — about half of that amount to the Mormon Church — which helped lower his effective tax rate to a modest 14 percent, according to records his campaign released early Tuesday.

Romney's income puts him in the top 0.006 percent of Americans, based on the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, from 2009. That year, only 8,274 filers reported income above $10 million.

His campaign advisers said the release of more than 500 pages of returns, schedules and worksheets was in "full compliance" with U.S. tax laws and was an effort to provide maximum transparency to the American public.

The documents were released as President Barack Obama prepared to deliver his State of the Union message, in which he is expected to talk about economic fairness. Asked during a round of television interviews Tuesday about Romney's relatively modest tax rate, given that he's a multimillionaire, White House adviser David Plouffe said: "We need to change our tax system. We need to change our tax code so that everybody is doing their fair share."

Romney had refused to disclose any federal tax returns, but then hinted he would only offer a single year's return in April. But mounting criticism from his rivals and a hard loss in last week's South Carolina primary forced his hand.

For 2011, Romney will pay about $3.2 million with an effective tax rate of about 15.4 percent, the campaign said. Those returns haven't yet been filed yet with the Internal Revenue Service. In total, he would pay more than $6.2 million in taxes on $45 million in income over the past two years, his campaign said.

"Gov. Romney has paid 100 percent of what he owes," said Benjamin Ginsberg, the Romney campaign's legal counsel. Ginsberg and other advisers insisted Romney did not use any aggressive tax strategies to help reduce or defer his tax income.

The advisers acknowledged that Romney continues to earn money from investments from Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity firm the candidate founded and managed between 1984 and early 1999. Under an agreement with the firm when he left, Romney continued to earn "carried interest" on new Bain investments as a former partner in the firm even though he no longer ran the operation.

Romney earned $7.5 million in Bain earnings in 2010 and expects to make $5.5 million in 2010, Ginsberg said.

The former Massachusetts governor had been cast by his GOP opponents as a wealthy businessman who earned lucrative payouts from his investments while Bain slashed jobs in the private sector. Rival Newt Gingrich released his 2010 returns last Thursday, showing he paid almost $1 million in income taxes — a tax rate of about 31 percent.

Romney's advisers acknowledged Tuesday that Romney and his wife, Ann, had a bank account in Switzerland as part of her trust. The account was worth $3 million and was held in the United Bank of Switzerland, said R. Bradford Malt, a Boston lawyer who makes investments for the Romneys and oversees their blind trust, which was set up to avoid any conflicts of interest in investments during his run for the presidency.

In 2009, UBS admitted assisting U.S. citizens in evading taxes, and agreed to pay a $780 billion penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.

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