Call it the Romney Rule: Mitt Says He Pays “Close” To 15 Percent In Taxes

<a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wacphiladelphia/4559118112/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Flickr/Gage Skidmore</a>

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Does Mitt Romney pay less of his income in taxes than you do?

Bloomberg’s Julie Davis tweeted that Romney told reporters while campaigning in South Carolina Tuesday that his “effective tax rate is probably close to 15 percent” because “most of his income is from investments.”

That means Romney—estimated to be worth between 190 million to 250 million dollars according to the New York Times—pays a lower effective tax rate than millions of Americans who aren’t close to being millionaires. Last year, President Barack Obama proposed a change to the American tax code called the “Buffett Rule,” named after wealthy investor Warren Buffet, who claimed that because capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than income, many of his employees paid more of their income in taxes than he did. 

How much Romney pays in taxes has long been the subject of speculation—he said that he “might” release his tax returns in April—but as Michael Scherer reported in October, the Democrats had long sought to use the Obama’s “Buffett Rule” proposal to frame Romney as the candidate of the wealthy. Romney has responded by accusing Obama of being “a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy.” Presumably, anyone who points out that Romney’s tax plan calls for keeping his own taxes low while cutting spending on programs for the less wealthy is also just jealous. 

Romney recently said talk of inequality should be confined to “quiet rooms,” but Democrats will most likely hammer the GOP front-runner for his low tax rate now that he’s outed himself as the exact kind of millionaire who would be impacted by the “Buffett Rule.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they started calling it the “Romney Rule.”

UPDATE: Greg Sargent points out that “Romney Rule” has been floating around for a while now, though until today his tax rate was still a matter of informed speculation. 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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