Mitt Romney: People "will talk," but "no surprises" in tax returns
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised Monday night that there would be "no surprises" in the tax returns he plans to release tomorrow.
Appearing at a Republican presidential debate in Florida, Romney that people "will talk" about the returns when they are released, but said they will show he paid "all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more."
"You'll see my income, how much taxes I've paid, how much I've paid to charity. You'll see how complicated taxes can be," Romney added. "And will there will discussion? Sure. Will it be an article? Yeah. But is it entirely legal and fair? Absolutely. I'm proud of the fact that I pay a lot of taxes."
One element that is expected to potentially garner attention are donations by the former Massachusetts governor to the Mormon church.
Romney, the former CEO of Bain Capital whose net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars, has been under pressure in recent weeks to release his tax returns. After initially saying he would release the full returns in April, the former Massachusetts governor reversed course and said he would release his 2010 returns and a 2011 estimate on Tuesday morning.
Last week, Romney revealed that his effective tax rate is about 15 percent, since most of his income coming from capital gains.
Asked if he was "surprised" by the amount of attention on his wealth during the Republican primary race Monday night, Romney went on the offensive.
"I will not apologize for having been successful," Romney said. "I knew that was going to come from the Obama team. I understood that...I was surprised to see people in the Republican Party pick up the weapons of the left and start using them to attack free enterprise. I think those weapons will be used against us. I think it's very unfortunate."
The former Massachusetts governor also tried to pivot from his own taxes to those of his audience.
"The real question is not so much my taxes, but the taxes of the American people," he said Monday. "And that's why I put forward a plan to eliminate the tax on savings for middle income Americans. Anyone making under $200,000 a year, I would eliminate the tax on interest, dividends and capital gains. People need help to be able to save their money. I'll also bring the corporate tax rate down to 25 percent as quickly as possible and then begin a process of reshaping the entire tax code. It's far too complex, it's far too intrusive, it's far too great."
Speaking after Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich touted his proposal for an optional flat tax, which he is now calling the "Mitt Romney flat tax."
"My position is not to attack him for paying a 15 percent marginal rate. I have in my tax proposal an alternative flat tax on the Hong Kong model, where you get to choose what you want, and our rate's 15 percent. So I'm prepared to describe my 15 percent flat tax as the Mitt Romney flat tax. I'd like to bring everybody else down to Mitt's rate, not try to bring him up to some other rate," said Gingrich, whose victory in the South Carolina primary reinvigorated his campaign and put Romney on the defensive going into next week's Florida primary.
In response to Gingrich, Romney noted that he would have "paid no taxes in the last two years" under Gingrich's plan to also eliminate the capital gains tax, since his income came from investments. It was a suggestion that Gingrich's plan cuts too much for wealthy individuals such as Romney.
Gingrich responded that "it was Alan Greenspan who first said the best rate, if you want to create jobs for capital gains, is zero."
"My number-one goal is to create a maximum number of jobs to put the American people back to work," Gingrich continued. "It's a straightforward argument."
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