Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes on more than $13 million in income in 2011 for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, his campaign said on Friday ahead of the promised release of the full return later in the day.
Fighting back against Democratic claims he paid little or no taxes in earlier years, the Romney campaign also plans to release a letter from accountants saying he paid an average effective federal tax rate of 20.2 percent over the 20-year period ending in 2009.
Democrats led by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid have questioned whether Romney paid taxes in at least some of those earlier years. Despite heavy political pressure, Romney has refused to release his earlier returns.
President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies have used Romney's refusal to release more returns as evidence that he is an out-of-touch millionaire.
Romney, who faces Obama in the Nov. 6 election, earns the majority of his income from investment profits, dividends and interest, which is taxed at a lower rate than wage income, which is taxed at a top rate of 35 percent.
Romney released his 2010 return in January, which showed he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent, and promised to release his 2011 return before the election. A summary of the 2011 return said Romney donated about $4 million to charity in 2011, amounting to nearly 30 percent of their income.
The release on Friday, traditionally a day when politicians release information they hope will not attract heavy news coverage, comes after a brutal week for Romney's campaign.
A secretly recorded video was released earlier in the week showing Romney denigrating the 47 percent of Americans who would back Obama "no matter what" as government-dependent victims. That followed last week's fumbled response to attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya and Egypt.
Romney's campaign said the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate Romney paid over the 20 years was 13.66 percent, and over the entire 20-year period he and his wife Ann gave to charity an average of 13.45 percent of their adjusted gross income.
In refusing to release the full returns from earlier years, Romney said it would just give Democrats "hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about."
The Obama campaign released an ad earlier in the year questioning the decision and noting Romney's accounting techniques and tax havens to minimize his tax burden.Romney Paid $1.9 Million in Taxes in 2011
The review of 20 years of Romney’s tax situation sought to silence Democrats, particularly Reid, that Mitt and Ann Romney paid no taxes for 10 years.
In August, Reid said in an interview with the left-leaning Huffington Post that he had heard the information from an investor with Romney’s private-equity company, Bain Capital.
Reid steadfastly refused to identify the source or to offer any evidence. Romney at the time specifically denied the charge.
Romney earlier released his 2010 return which showed that for that year, he paid a 14 percent effective income tax rate, paying $3 million in federal taxes on a $21.7 million income. He donated about $3 million to charity.
In the interview, Reid told the Huffington Post that he had received a phone call a month earlier from a person who had invested with Bain.
"Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," he claimed the individual said.
Reid admitted at the time that he had no idea about the veracity of the claim.
“Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," he said in the interview. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?”
Reid said that, based on the no-taxes allegation, Romney’s fortune was likely to be far higher than the $250 million that is regularly cited.
“It's a lot more than that,” he said. “I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."
Reid even brought Romney’s father George into the interview. George Romney started the now-common practice of releasing multiple years of returns when he published 12 years’ worth during his 1968 run for the Republican White House nomination.
“His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son,” Reid told the Huffington Post.
Romney’s campaign responded by telling the Huffington Post that he had “gone above and beyond the disclosure requirements by releasing two years of personal tax returns in addition to the hundreds of pages of financial disclosure documents he has provided to the Federal Elections Commission and made public.”
Reid’s accusation immediately rallied the GOP, with former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan being among the first to call him out.
Buchanan told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that Reid’s comments were “beneath the dignity of the office of the Senate majority leader.”
Van Susteren pointed out that Reid, an attorney, would know that such an anonymous allegation would never be allowed in court.
“The Democrats are trying to change the subject,” Buchanan responded. “They cannot win on Barack Obama's record. They know that. And so what you have to do is they have got to get material on Romney to damage him and make him utterly unacceptable.”
“That shows a measure of desperation.”
Republicans soon demanded that Reid release his own returns – something the Nevada Democrat has steadily refused to do – sparking charges of hypocrisy.
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