Mitt Romney paid the Internal Revenue Service somewhere in the ballpark of $250,000 more than he legally needed to last year, solely for political consistency purposes.
For comparison purposes, that’s about as much money as an American earning the median income will pay in federal taxes – at current rates – over the next 45 years combined.
Romney donated $4 million of his $13.7 million income last year to charity, according to a summary of his 2011 tax returns released by the Republican’s presidential campaign on Friday afternoon. He only claimed $2.25 million in charitable deductions, leaving $1.75 million in potential deductions on the table.
Multiply that non-claimed money by the 15 percent tax rate on investment income – which the statement said was the primary source of Romney’s income last year – and you’ve got about a quarter of a million dollars headed unnecessarily to the IRS. The statement says this was done “to conform to the governor's statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.”
Reporters are sifting the details of the 2011 return right now, along with a very topline summary of returns from 1990 to 2009. That summary shows that Romney has, contra claims by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., never paid less than a 13.66 percent effective federal tax rate, and paid an average effective rate about 20 percent over that time.
For comparison purposes, taxpayers in the middle quintile of income paid an effective rate of about 11 percent last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Those in the top 1 percent paid just under 29 percent.
Romney’s 2011 rate, in other words, puts him much closer to the effective-rate experience of the middle class than to that of the super-rich. He’d be even closer to the middle-class rate if he’d claimed all his deductions. Which, when you think about it, is what pretty much everyone in the middle class would do.