Financial Disclosure for Romney Opens New Arguments

When presidential hopeful Mitt Romney proclaimed he did not receive “very much” money for his speaking engagements last year, he may have spoken himself into a corner.

If the $374,327 Romney earned last year in speaking fees does not qualify as much money to him, he may have a difficult time defending why the ultra-wealthy, including him, should not pay a higher tax rate.

On Tuesday morning, Romney released his 2010 tax returns showing that he and his wife earned about $21 million of income last year. He paid about $3 million of federal income taxes, or about 14%. Romney and other very wealthy Americans pay about 15% of income taxes, as opposed to middle class families who pay just over 25%. Supporters of taxing the very affluent have argued that the tax rate on the wealthiest should be closer to what the middle class pays. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet often uses the example that he pays a higher tax rate than his secretary.

This could be ammunition for President Obama and other Democrats who say wealthy Americans can afford to pay more. The argument being that when Romney said, “I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much,” the $374,327 he was referring to is already about a fifth of $2 million, or what he would have had to pay more in taxes in 2010 if he paid a rate of 25%.

Republicans argue that the wealthy already contribute the most in federal income taxes and that 47% of Americans pay no income taxes at all.

Romney has an estimated wealth of between $190 million to $250 million, according to financial disclosure reports.

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