The basics, via Reuters:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released tax records on Tuesday indicating he will pay $6.2 million in taxes on a total of $42.5 million in income over the years 2010 and 2011. Bowing to increasing political pressure to provide more detail about his vast wealth, the former private equity executive released tax returns indicating he and his wife, Ann, paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. They expect to pay a 15.4 percent rate when they file their returns for 2011.
Romney's tax rate is below that of most wage-earning Americans because most of his income, as outlined in more than 500 pages of tax documents, flows from capital gains on investments. Under the U.S. tax code, capital gains are taxed at 15 percent, compared with a top tax rate of 35 percent for wage earners.
Before we go any further, two timely reminders from conservative wonk Avik Roy regarding that last bolded bit:
(1) This 15% Romney tax rate issue is a canard. Romney paid both 15% and corporate income taxes (usually 30%+) on his investments, as all do.
(2) Companies that Bain invested in paid income taxes that are thereby not passed through as profits to partnership.
Roy reinforces points argued eloquently by the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore last year during the Democrats' "Buffett Tax" nonsense:
The reason for the light capital gains and dividend tax is that corporations pay up to a 35% tax on their profits before a dime of it is passed on to shareholders. The real tax rate on corporate income paid to individuals through capital gains and dividends is not 15%. It is closer to 45% once you count the tax on corporate profits. If the dividend tax rises to 20% next year from 15% today, then the total tax on dividends paid to shareholders would be closer to 50%, and that doesn't include state and local taxes.
Here's another detail that Lefties won't want to focus on, conveniently buried in the penultimate paragraph of Reuters' write-up:
Regardless, the emerging picture was of a man of great means who contributes mightily to charity. The documents showed he and his wife contributed $7 million in charity over the two years, much of it going to his Mormon church.
So between taxes and charity, the Romney's paid $13.2 million since 2010 -- roughly one-third of their income. How will the media treat these numbers? Blogger Exurban Jon has it about right:
The headline should be that Romney donated 15% of his income [to charity]. Instead it'll be that he "only" paid 14% to almighty government.
Right, because private charity isn't the State, and the State is king. Hey, remember this?
UPDATE - Jen Rubin, Phil Klein, and Jim Pethokoukis put these numbers into perspective. A few highlights:
...Here’s what $3.2 million in federal taxes — Romney’s estimated 2011 burden — pays for:— The monthly food stamp allowance for about 23,909 people.
— The cost of educating 302 elementary and high school students.
— The base salary (before bonuses and allowances) of 178 privates in the U.S. Army.
— The federal contribution to the benefits of 636 Medicaid enrollees.
In addition to his taxes, Romney has given around 16.4 percent of his income over the past two years to charity through his family charity, the Tyler Foundation. In addition to donations to the Mormon church, here’s where else Romney and his wife Ann donated money: the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, the Center for the Treatment of Pediatric MS, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Homes for Our Troops, and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, among others.
Another way of looking at it is that in 2011 the Romneys paid out 42 percent of their income in taxes and charity. Here’s how I got there: Total tax (line 60) + foreign taxes (line 47) + state taxes and real-estate taxes + other taxes (Schedule A, line 9) + charitable contributions (Schedule A, line 19) divided by Adjusted Gross Income (1040 line 37).