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>

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


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. 

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

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.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

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

Donate

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.