1. Mitt’s tax bracket:
Note to television producers or editors about to do interviews with Mitt Romney on the campaign trail: The tax rate for the lower-middle class and middle class (joint filers earning roughly $17,000 to $70,000) is 15%. So any of your reporters doing an interview with Romney should ask him if he paid more than 15% of his total income in federal income taxes last year, or more than 25% — the bracket for income from $70,001 to $142,700.
Because of preferential treatment of capital gains, of “carried interest” income earned by people in the private equity business, and of money derived from offshore investments, as well as other tax breaks, there’s a good chance that Romney didn’t pay at a rate of 25% or even 15%. Be sure to use “total income” in the question, which would be Romney’s income before taking deductions for many of the tax breaks not available to average wage earners. Update: Shortly after this column was published, Romney was asked precisely this question, and told reporters that he paid “closer to the 15% rate than anything.”
Romney’s likely answer, based on what he has said so far, will be that he has not decided to release his tax returns but that he may do so later.
To which your reporter should respond: “Yes, I know, but don’t you know – or can’t you check your tax return and tell us – simply what your tax rate was? Or just tell us what it says on line 22 on your IRS form 1040 tax return (“total income”) and line 44 (“tax’”) or line 45 (“alternative minimum tax”). We’ll calculate the percentage and spare you giving us all the details that you fear will invade your privacy. Won’t you at least tell us that? With all the debate about tax reform, don’t you think voters should want to know if you’re paying taxes at least at the same rate that Americans with average incomes are?”
This is going to be an increasingly big issue; why not have one of your people take the lead?