“It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything,” Mr. Romney said. “Because my last 10 years, I’ve — my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income, or rather than earned annual income.”
Mr. Romney added: “And then I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.”
In fact, in the most recent year, Mr. Romney made $374,327.62 in speaker’s fees, at an average of $41,592 per speech, according to his public financial disclosure reports.
The vast majority of Mr. Romney’s income this year came in the form of investment income, whether dividends or capital gains on mutual funds and retirement accounts, or his post-retirement share of profits and investment returns from Bain Capital, which would be subject to the same 15 percent tax rate.
President Obama paid an effective federal tax rate of just over 26 percent on his 2010 returns, the most recent available.
The political significance of Mitt Romney’s hidden tax returns almost certainly has to do with his tax rates. The Republican frontrunner has been reluctant to admit he pays much lower tax rates than middle-class workers, despite the vast wealth he made during his vulture-capitalist career.
The politics of this are awful for the likely GOP nominee. Working families probably won’t be amused to learn Romney — the guy who got rich laying people off, and has been a professional candidate for the last six years — pays a lower tax rate than they do. They’ll be even less pleased to know Romney, if elected president, will fight to keep it this way, even when he calls for tax increases on those struggling most.