Mitt Romney says he 'probably' pays a tax rate close to 15 percent

GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney on Tuesday said he probably pays a tax rate of about 15 percent. 

Romney, who has come under pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike to release his tax forms, said most of his income is in long-term capital gains, which is hit with a 15 percent rate. 

"It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything, because my last 10 years, I’ve — my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income, or rather than earned annual income," Romney said during a press conference in Florence, S.C. "I get a little bit of income from my book but I gave that all away. And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time but not very much."


Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum — Romney's rivals for the GOP nomination — all called on Romney to release his tax returns this week for the sake of transparency. 

During Monday night's GOP debate, Romney, who is said to be worth as much as $250 million, responded that he would "probably" release his tax returns sometime in April.

Taxes are expected to be a big theme in the 2012 election, since President Obama has called on wealthier taxpayers to pay a higher tax rate. Obama also wants to raise the 15 percent tax rate on capital gains. Republicans argue taxing capital gains is a double tax because invested income is already taxed. 

Romney opposes raising the tax on capital gains; his tax plan proposes maintaining the current tax rate and eliminating it for individuals with an adjusted gross income below $200,000.

On Tuesday, however, he said he disagreed with the idea of eliminating all taxes on capital gains, saying it would allow people "very high income the possibility of [paying] no tax at all." 

Romney referred to billionaire Warren Buffett's argument that high-income individuals might end up with a zero percent tax rate if the tax on capital gains was eliminated. 

"I just don’t think that’s the right course," he said. "With our precious dollars, we should focus on providing relief, tax relief, in two areas: One is for middle-income Americans, who have been hurt the most, and the other is to bring our corporate rates to a level where we could draw people from other countries to bring their funds back in this country."

Romney appears to be running away with the GOP nomination; he has a huge lead in South Carolina ahead of that state's primary on Saturday, and took first place in both the Iowa caucuses and Hew Hampshire primary. 

The Democratic National Committee quickly blasted Romney for the admission in an email on Tuesday, writing: "It should be no surprise then that Romney opposes the Buffett rule that says millionaires should not pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries."