Mitt Romney’s 14.1 percent effective federal tax rate in 2011 would’ve been lower if he’d deducted all of his charitable contributions from his nearly $13.7 million in income. But after estimating that he paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes in each of the last 10 years, Romney opted not to deduct nearly $1.8 million worth of charitable contributions last year to artificially lift his tax liability.
So what would Romney’s effective tax rate have been if he’d deducted all of his charitable donations? About 12.2 percent, or possibly lower.
Here’s the math we used, validated by tax experts at the liberal Center for American Progress.
According to the campaign, Romney earned $13,696,951 in 2011, of which he paid $1,935,708 in taxes.
But those figures include $1,770,772 in charitable contributions that he could have deducted, but chose not to. Since the campaign acknowledges that nearly all of Romney’s income came from investments, we assume he paid a 15 percent rate on that $1,770,772 — or $265,615.80 in taxes that he didn’t have to pay.
If you subtract that figure from his total taxes, you’re left with $1,670,092.20 — the amount of tax he would have paid if he’d deducted all of his charitable contributions.
And that’s 12.2 percent of his overall income.
Romney’s official return reveals that some of his income was subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax at a maximum rate of 28 percent. If the contributions he didn’t deduct were taxed at that rate, it means he could’ve reduced his effective tax rate even lower — to 10.5 percent.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.