WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney accumulated more than $25 million in foreign income between 2005 and 2010, while he was governor of Massachusetts and a presidential candidate, according to an analysis of his 2010 tax return.
The 2010 return lists foreign tax payments Romney made dating back to 2000. By Romney standards, the payments were modest through 2004, averaging $37,000 a year. In 2005, however, his foreign tax bill shot up to $333,149 and stayed high for the next three years, before dipping in 2009, as the financial crisis hit hard.
In 2010, Romney’s foreign tax bill was down to $67,173 on declared foreign income of $1,525,982. That’s a 4.4 percent rate. After expenses and various other deductions, Romney declared a net foreign income of $392,000, making his net tax rate 17 percent.
Because the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has so far declined to release his earlier tax returns, HuffPost made a rough calculation of his prior foreign earnings by assuming he paid similar tax rates in previous years.
Using that analysis, paying $333,000 in taxes would translate into gross foreign income of $7.5 million in 2005, or net income of $1.9 million. Even using the much-reduced net income figure, Romney would have earned $7 million in foreign income from 2005 to 2010.
Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and served a four-year term, during which time he took no paycheck from the state. He began running for president while still governor and continued until early 2008. On the campaign trail in 2011, he joked with a Florida voter that he was unemployed.
But unemployment for Romney looks a lot more lucrative than it does for most Americans.
“That may be one of the reasons they don’t want to release the returns … they don’t want people to see that income,” said Rebecca Wilkins, an attorney with Citizens for Tax Justice.
Romney and Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded, have profited by setting up offshore investment vehicles and shipping American jobs overseas. The money from those activities has continued to flow to Romney long after he claims to have retired in 1999 from Bain, as evidenced by his tax returns.
One Bain investment that has been profitable for Romney, for example, is Sensata Technologies. The company is planning to shutter its Freeport, Ill., factory by November and move production to China. The soon-to-be-unemployed workers have pleaded with Romney to use his influence over Bain to stave off the closure. Romney has so far declined to do so.
Instead, Romney has transferred $170,000 worth of Sensata stock he owns to a charity he controls, a move that gave him a sizable tax deduction.
The Obama campaign has made Bain’s offshoring efforts a top campaign issue, releasing a brutal ad overlaying Romney’s outsourcing record atop a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
During an interview with the National Review, Romney said that sub-companies in the Cayman Islands help foreign investors avoid paying taxes on investments in the United States. Bain Capital currently has 138 sub-companies headquartered in the Cayman Islands.
“The so-called offshore account in the Cayman Islands, for instance, is an account established by a U.S. firm to allow foreign investors to invest in U.S. enterprises and not be subject to taxes outside of their own jurisdiction,” Romney said. “So in many instances, the investments in something of that nature are brought back into the United States. The world of finance is not as simple as some would have you believe. Sometimes a foreign entity is formed to allow foreign investors to invest in the United States, which may well be the case with the entities that Democrats are describing as foreign accounts.”