If elected president, Mitt Romney might be willing to end the “carried interest” provision in the tax code that helped him amass his estimated $260 million-plus fortune, according to a campaign aide.
Lanhee Chen, the former Massachusetts governor’s policy director, told reporters on Tuesday that Romney could consider ending the tax break as part of a comprehensive tax overhaul — a move that would significantly raise taxes on many American investors.
But later in the day, the Romney camp “tried to step back” from the aide’s remarks, stressing that Romney doesn’t want to raise anyone taxes, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The carried interest provision gives private-equity and venture-capital executives a relatively low 15 percent capital gains tax rate on much of their income. Carried interest is a share of profits from an investment fund or partnership given to managers as compensation. Romney took advantage of the tax break as founder of private-equity firm Bain Capital.
Most taxpayers who receive ordinary wages are subject to income tax rates of up to 35 percent.
Newt Gingrich, Romney’s chief rival for the GOP presidential nomination, wants to eliminate all capital gains taxes, and to reduce personal income taxes to an optional flat rate of 15 percent, with a per-person deduction of $12,000.
The Romney aide’s comments came as his campaign made available more than 500 pages of tax return data from 2010 and 2011.
Romney and his wife reported an effective tax rate of about 14 percent on their 2010 and just over 15 percent on their preliminary 2011 return, on income of around $20 million each year. They received about $7.4 million in income taxed under carried-interest rules in 2010, and $5.5 million in 2011, The Journal reported.
Romney’s tax data released on Tuesday also disclosed his ownership of a now closed Swiss bank account and investments in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other tax havens.
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