WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney released a wealth of new information on Friday afternoon about his personal health and his financial holdings, capping a politically difficult week by returning the campaign to a topic that has dogged the candidacy of the Republican presidential nominee.
In addition to releasing his 2011 tax returns, Romney also provided a 20-year snapshot of his tax returns, an attempt to provide a deeper view of his wealth and to try and illustrate to voters that he has been paying taxes during most of his adult life.
Romney’s updated tax returns show that he paid $1.9 million in taxes on $13.7 million in income, most of which came from his investments. It means his effective tax rate for 2011 was 14.1 percent, which is slightly higher than it was in 2010.
For political reasons, Romney claimed a charitable deduction of $1.75 million less than he could have – claiming $2.25 million from contributions of $4 million. The reason, according to his accountant, was so that he could still abide by a pledge he made in August that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.
Had he taken the full $4 million in charitable deductions, his effective tax rate would have been about 9 percent. In a July interview with ABC News, Romney essentially said he’d be a fool to pay more taxes than he owed.
“I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president,” Romney told ABC News’ David Muir. “I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.”
Perhaps more significantly, Romney on Friday also released a summary of his tax returns over a 20-year period, covering the years from 1990 to 2009. That summary, which was done by PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that in each of the last 20 years he owed both federal and state income taxes.
Over that period, the summary says, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.2 percent. The lowest annual effective federal tax rate he paid was 13.7 percent. The Romneys also donated an average of 13.45 percent to charity over that 20-year period.
Romney is still not releasing the actual tax forms from that period, however, meaning he will have released a total of two years worth of tax returns and far less than his political opponents have called for.
The snapshot of what Romney paid over the last 20 years seems to be a direct rebuttal of some of the comments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has claimed several times that he was told by an unnamed Bain investor that Romney didn’t pay any federal taxes over a 10 year period.
Romney on Friday also released a two-page letter from his personal physician, following a frequent practice of presidential candidates releasing detailed information about their physical health.
His physician, Randall D. Gaz at Massachusetts General Hospital, gave Romney glowing reviews following a physical on Aug. 9, when Romney had a resting heart rate of 40, extremely low for a 65-year-old male.
“He has shown the ability to be engaged in multiple, varied, simultaneous activities requiring complex mental, social, emotional, and leadership skills,” wrote Gaz, who has been Romney’s personal physician since June 1989. “He is a vigorous man who takes excellent care of his personal physical health.”
“There are no physical impairments that should interfere with his rigorous and demanding political career as the next President of the United States,” Gaz added.
The physician’s letter noted several notable aspects of Romney’s medical history. He had a concussion and fractures from the car accident Romney was in while serving his Mormon mission in France in 1968. He underwent an appendectomy in 1965, a back lipoma excision in 1985, and right hand surgery for a laceration suture repair in 1987.
Romney also takes low dose aspirin and Lipitor daily.
“He totally abstains from drinking any alcoholic beverages, and does not use any tobacco products or illicit drugs,” Gaz wrote. “He eats a high fiber diet with abundant fruits and vegetables and minimizes intake of high cholesterol foods and concentrated sweets.”
In tax returns Romney released in January, he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010 on more than $21.7 million in income. At that time, he released an estimate on what he would pay in 2011, putting that estimate at 15.4 percent on $20.9 million. He filed for an extension in April, and only released the final tax returns on Friday.
Both the amount of income, and the tax rate, turned out to be lower than his earlier estimates.
Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, paid an effective rate of 20 percent in 2011 on $323,416 of adjusted gross income.
President Obama paid an effective tax rate of 20.5 percent in 2011 on adjusted gross income of $789,674. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife paid an effective rate of 23.2 percent on income of $379,035.