With his personal wealth becoming a growing controversy on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney finally heeded repeated calls to release his tax returns this morning. He brought in a team of experts for a conference call with reporters to discuss the data contained in the more than 500 page document dump and defend him against charges his Swiss accounts, investments in Cayman Islands funds and fifteen percent tax rate represent efforts to game the system.
“The 500 some pages being released today include six schedules, 18 forms and 69 statements. It is complicated and it is also fully transparent,” Mr. Romney’s national counsel, Ben Ginsberg, said at the start of the call. “The returns also reflect that Governor Romney earned his wealth as a highly successful businessman, success that’s created wealth for his family and jobs for around 100,000 Americans. He is very proud of that success.”
Mr. Romney’s returns showed he made approximately $42.5 million in the past two years and paid about $6.2 million in taxes during that same period. Based on his adjusted gross income, Mr. Romney’s average tax rate for the past two years was about 14.65 percent, a hair below what he estimated when he admitted he paid “probably closer to the 15 percent rate” prior to releasing his returns. His rate is also well below the 35 percent rate other earners in the top income tax bracket pay without creative accounting. A tax rate of 15 percent is the same paid by those who make $35,350 or less per year.