Romney’s Tax Rate Lower Than Any President’s Since Nixon

Mitt Romney is worth double the sum of the last eight presidents’ wealth, but he has paid one of the lowest tax rates. According to Joseph Thorndike at Tax Analysts, only President Richard Nixon paid a lower tax rate, at 6.1 percent, in the last 40 years.

The chart below compares Romney’s relatively low tax rate to recent presidents including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, who each paid above 20 percent:

Since much of Romney’s income comes from investments, the low 15 percent capital gains tax rate saved him $1.2 million in taxes in the last year. Romney’s tax return dump on Friday confirmed that his 14.1 percent tax rate is lower than than many middle class Americans’ tax rates.

The precedent for presidential candidates to release their tax returns began after Nixon drew fire for paying a mere 0.3 percent tax rate from 1970 to 1972. Nixon’s tax avoidance became a point for controversy in his administration, since Nixon took “extremely aggressive efforts at keeping it low,” particularly, a charitable deduction for donating his vice presidential papers.

Romney’s returns show he didn’t claim $1.8 million in charitable deductions last year; doing so would have dropped his rate to 9 percent. Meanwhile, both Romney’s proposed tax plan and the one proposed by his vice presidential nominee would allow him to pay even less in taxes.