Romney paid 15% tax on $45m income

Republican candidate for President releases federal tax returns on his 2010 and 2011 earnings.

The Mitt Romney campaign published details this morning of the Republican Presidential candidate's federal tax returns, showing that he expects to pay $6.2 million (£4m) in taxes on income of $45 million (£29m) from the last two years -- tax rates of 13.9 per cent in 2010 and 15.4 per cent in 2011.

The disclosure reveals the extent of Romney's wealth, questions about which have dogged his nomination campaign in recent weeks. Romney and his wife Ann hold around a quarter of a billion dollars in assets, largely derived from Romney's involvement in the private equity firm, Bain Capital. The Washington Post and other newspapers this morning reported the Romneys have a large numbers of offshore investments -- in parts of the world including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands -- with funds from a recently closed Swiss bank account.

The Romneys' incomes of $21.6m in 2010 and $20.9m in 2010 came mainly from investments, which under the US capital gains law are taxed at 15 per cent. The maximum tax rate on earned income is 35 per cent.

At a debate in Florida last night Romney said:

I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.

The former Massachusetts governor noted that under rival Newt Gingrich's proposal to reduce capital gains taxes to zero, "I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years."

The Gingrich campaign made a surprising surge in recent weeks; the former Speaker of the House opened up the nominee race with a landslide win in the South Carolina primary. Fifty delegates are at stake on 31 January when four million registered Republican voters will take to the polls in Florida, choosing between the remaining candidates Romney, Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.