VP candidate Ryan releases two years of tax returns

WASHINGTON Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:35pm EDT

Republican vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a campaign rally at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio August 15, 2012. REUTERS/Aaron Bernstein

Republican vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a campaign rally at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio August 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Aaron Bernstein

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Friday released tax returns showing he paid an effective tax rate of 20 percent last year, roughly in line with President Barack Obama's rate and likely higher than that of his running mate Mitt Romney.

Ryan's release of his 2010 and 2011 tax returns aligns him with Romney's position that giving out two years of tax returns is adequate. Democrats have held the Republican presidential candidate to the fire for not making public more years of tax information.

Romney, who last week tapped Ryan to join him on the Republican ticket, has released tax information showing that he paid a 13.9 percent rate for 2010. He said in January he would probably pay 15.4 percent for 2011, and has said he will release his full return for that year in coming weeks.

Obama paid a rate of 20.5 percent for 2011.

Ryan and his wife, Janna, paid $64,764 in total federal tax on adjusted gross income of $323,416 in 2011, when they filed an amended return. Their effective 2010 rate was about 16 percent.

Romney's campaign posted the Ryans' tax returns on its website. "It's time to focus on the real issues in this campaign - turning around the economy and getting America back to work again," the campaign said.

Obama's re-election campaign said on Friday that if Romney releases five years of returns, it would not press the former private equity executive to release more - a proposal quickly rejected by Romney's campaign.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is one of the richest men ever to run for U.S. president. He has an estimated net worth of up to $250 million.

The Obama campaign and its Democratic allies have targeted Romney's wealth and refusal to release more tax returns in ads that paint him as out of touch with the majority of voters.

Polls show the strategy is working. Independent voters in swing states have a lower opinion of Romney after hearing about his business record and personal finances.

The top federal tax rate for wages is 35 percent, while capital gains are taxed at a lower rate.

LIVING TRUST INCOME

Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, has proposed deep cuts in tax rates. He has also said he favors closing tax loopholes, though like Romney, he has offered few specifics on which ones.

Obama has targeted a range of corporate tax loopholes for closure, but has also said little about his plans for dealing with enormous tax breaks that benefit the middle class, such as deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving.

The Ryans' 2011 return was amended to report information about the Prudence Little Living Trust and to add $61,122 in income that did not appear on the original return.

Prudence Little, mother of Janna, died in 2010 in Houston. The Ryans' 2011 amended return said the trust was "inadvertently omitted" from their original return.

Romney campaign spokesman Brendan Buck said that a form from the trust had not been received by the filing deadline for the 2011 return "and therefore was omitted on the originally filed documents." When the form was received, he said, "the omission was realized and corrected."

The Ryans sharply increased their charitable donations over the two years covered by their returns, reporting gifts to charity of $12,991 in 2011, versus $2,600 in 2010.

The Ryans also reported much more in capital gains, posting 2011 investment income of $33,153, up from $3,135 in 2010.

Their income from rental real estate and other supplemental sources rose to $116,043 in 2011 from $39,013 in 2010.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Temple-West and Karey Wutkowski; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jackie Frank)

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