Mitt Raising His Own Taxes?

January 17, 2012 6:31 a.m.

Mitt Romney says he won’t raise anyone’s taxes no matter what. But I’m starting to get the sense he might be raising his own taxes pretty quickly. Everybody noted in last night’s debate that Romney seemed to cross the threshold on the tax return release question. He didn’t promise he would but he said he “probably” would in April. To me, the key tell there was that he still didn’t commit.

But on the campaign trail this morning, he gave us, I think, a bit more sense of what’s up.

Here’s what Romney said this morning …

I know if I’m the nominee, people want to see what things are up to date, so they’ll want to see the tax returns in april. So rather than have multiple releases of tax returns, why, we’ll wait until the tax returns for the recent year are completed, and then release them.

Here’s the video …

Romney seemed to make more clear he’s probably going to release the returns his tax preparers are releasing right now — i.e., the 2011 return, not earlier ones. If my surmise is right, Romney’s resistance to releasing his taxes isn’t tied to his wealth (which is well known) it’s to the tax rate he pays (and how that plays into the political debate over the ‘Buffett Rule’). Because of the nature of his work virtually all of his income is based on capital gains which are usually taxed at 15%. In addition, since it’s not salary income, he pays no payroll taxes (which, depending on the model you use, costs most people either 7.5% or 15%.) So a very low rate of taxation (15%) and no payroll taxes at all. That amounts to an effective federal tax rate well below that of many middle class folks. And going into a campaign that will focus a lot on the resistance to any tax hikes for the mega-wealthy, that’s a complicated bit of baggage to carry.

Indeed, in a separate appearance this morning Romney seemed to concede that this is the case, that his tax rate is around 15% since it’s made up mainly of investment income …

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