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

<a target="_blank" href="">Flickr/Gage Skidmore</a>

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. 


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.