The Problem With Romney’s Tax Return Isn’t The Rate He Paid, It’s What He Plans To Do About It

Romney French Olympics

Let’s start this off clearly. No, there is nothing wrong with the way Mitt Romney paid his taxes. He did it legally, he paid what he owed.

The problem is with how much he owed (about the same as someone who makes between $17-$69K) — so bash the tax code and not the Romney, right?

Well what about Romney’s policies? Right now, he has the whole world watching him and asking the question: How would you change America if you got the chance? What injustices or wrongs do you see around you that you would correct as (arguably) the most powerful man in America?

There are a lot of issues he’s talked about, but changing tax rates on capital gains or carried interest isn’t one of them. Here is Romney’s tax plan from his website:

  • Maintain current tax rates on personal income
  • Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
  • Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
  • Eliminate the death tax
  • Pursue a conservative overhaul of the tax system over the long term that includes lower, flatter rates on a broader base
  • 25% flat corporate tax rate

The part of America’s tax code that allows Mitt Romney to pay such a low rate (capital gains taxes) would remain unchanged if he were President, so it’s fair to assume that he’s OK with the rate that he pays on his income.

And on a call following the release of Romney’s returns, Fortune’s Dan Primack asked the campaign directly if there were any plans to reform the tax on carried interest or capital gains:

I asked if Romney continues to believe that carried interest should be taxed as a capital gain (as he told TechCrunch during the previous campaign). I could not get a straight answer. They said that Romney is dedicated to a cleaner, fairer tax system that includes fewer loopholes – but only in a comprehensive manner. They also said Romney is opposed to raising anyone’s taxes. When I pushed for a yes/no on if a carried interest change could be included in that comprehensive manner, the campaign moved on to the next questioner. How could they not have been prepared for that one?

 That’s a good question.