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Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich reported an adjusted gross income of $3.1 million for 2010, according to tax returns he released last night before he took part in a Republican presidential debate.
Gingrich, 68, and his wife, Callista, paid $994,708 to the federal government in 2010, for an effective tax rate of almost 32 percent. That’s more than twice the rate that fellow Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he pays. President Barack Obama had an effective federal tax rate of about 26 percent in 2010, according to his returns.
Gingrich called on Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and co-founder of Boston private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC, to release his returns. In last night’s debate, Gingrich, who has portrayed the Republican front-runner as a member of a Wall Street elite, suggested his opponent may have something to hide. Romney said last night he will release his most recent tax returns in April.
“If there’s anything in there that is going to help us lose the election, we should know it before the nomination,” Gingrich said. He said he released his own return, jointly filed with his wife and that of his Washington-based charity, the Gingrich Foundation, “so that people can see what we do and how we did it and what our values are.”
The return for the foundation lists its fair market value as $97,834.
The Gingrich returns, prepared by a certified public accountant in Potomac, Maryland, disclose that the couple contributed $81,133 -- or 2.6 percent of their income -- to charities. That includes the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the campaign said in a statement. The returns list a $19,800 alimony payment. The former Georgia representative has been married three times and has two adult daughters.
Gingrich, who resigned the speakership and his congressional seat in January 1999, has worked as a consultant on health-care issues and as an adviser to Freddie Mac. The mortgage-finance company paid Gingrich’s consulting firm at least $1.6 million over eight years. The company’s retainer ended in 2008.
He hasn’t released his contract with Freddie Mac.
Gingrich and his wife each earned $10,000 in fees from boards of directors, and the candidate earned $21,625 in speaking fees, according to the 2010 return.
He reported in a separate financial disclosure total assets of from $7.3 million to $38 million. That report, filed in July with the Federal Election Commission, allows candidates to describe assets in broad ranges.
Presidential candidates aren’t required by law to disclose tax returns. Most have done so since passage of the post- Watergate campaign-finance laws.
Romney had as recently as Jan. 11 told reporters he had no plans to release his tax returns. After calls from fellow Republicans, including former-candidate-turned-Romney backer Jon Huntsman, he said on Jan. 17 that he would “probably” release his most recent tax filings in April.
Asked by the CNN moderator in the debate why he wouldn’t make the documents public before tomorrow’s South Carolina primary, Romney said, “Every time we release things drip by drip, the Democrats go out with another array of attacks.”
‘Probably Be Embarrassed’
Presidential candidate Ron Paul, a U.S. House member from Texas, said in the debate that he “hadn’t thought it through” as to whether he would release his tax returns. “I’d probably be embarrassed to put my financial statement up against their income,” said the physician, referring to his rivals for the nomination.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the fourth remaining candidate in the race, said he will make his tax returns public as soon as he goes home and has access to the computer on which he said they are stored.
Romney has a net worth of between $190 million and $250 million, according to his personal financial disclosure form filed in August with the Federal Election Commission.
Romney told reporters that his effective tax rate probably is about 15 percent because his income “comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past.” Capital gains on investments are taxed at 15 percent rather than as much as 35 percent, the rate for ordinary income.
--With assistance from David J. Lynch and Matthew Caminiti in Washington. Editors: Jodi Schneider, Jim Rubin.
To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; Steven Sloan in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at Jschneider50@bloomberg.net