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Romney writes off only a portion of LDS charity to keep tax rate up

Published September 24, 2012 6:25 pm

Politics • GOP candidate paid $2.6M in tithing but limited deduction to "conform" to statement he paid 13% of income in taxes, trustee says.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave about $2.6 million to the LDS Church in tithing last year, though he only claimed a little over $1 million on his federal income tax filings to ensure a higher tax rate.

Romney, the first Mormon to head a major-party presidential ticket, and his wife, Ann, pulled in nearly $13.7 million in income last year, according to tax records disclosed by his campaign Friday.

The couple's donations to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appear to be almost double the 10 percent tithe faithful members are asked to give to the Salt Lake City-based faith.

In addition to Romney's direct contributions to the LDS Church, he also gave to the faith through his charity for a total of $3.07 million last year, according to his campaign. The campaign also said Friday that the Romneys have given, on average, 13.45 percent of their income annually to charity, including the LDS Church.

Ann Romney told Parade magazine recently that she loves tithing and that when they write the check to the LDS Church, she actually cries.

"So do I, but for a different reason," Mitt Romney interjected.

The Romneys have also given annually to their family charity, the Tyler Charitable Foundation, which, in turn, has paid out large sums to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Sabin Children's Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and to Mitt Romney's alma mater, Brigham Young University.

Romney's campaign has refused to release more than two years' worth of tax records but claims that the lowest effective tax rate the Romneys have paid is 13.66 percent.

To keep his 2011 taxes above that mark, Romney only wrote off about half his charitable giving, according to R. Bradford Malt, who heads up the Romneys' blind trusts.

Malt said in a blog post Friday that the couple limited their deduction of charitable contributions to "conform" with Romney's statement that he has paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes during the past decade.

tburr@sltrib.com