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    Ryan releases two years of tax returns

    Paul Ryan spoke during a campaign event Friday in Virginia.
    Richmond Times-Dispatch/associated press
    Paul Ryan spoke during a campaign event Friday in Virginia.

    WASHINGTON – Paul Ryan and his wife paid an effective tax rate of 20 percent last year and 15.9 percent the year before, according to tax returns the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee released late on Friday afternoon.

    Ryan’s tax returns, released through Mitt Romney’s campaign, show that he paid $64,764 in taxes on $323,416 of adjusted gross income in 2011. He and his wife paid $34,233 in taxes on $215,417 of adjusted gross income in 2010.

    Just over half of the couple’s income came through Ryan’s congressional salary, according to the returns, with the other amounts coming from a variety of investments, including rental real estate, partnerships, and trusts.


    The Ryans donated $12,991 to charity in 2011, and $2,600 to charity in 2010. Those contributions went to such groups as the Boy Scouts of America, Junior Achievement, and Women and Children’s Horizons, according to the campaign.

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    Although Ryan’s income is larger than what the average person makes, his tax returns are fairly straightforward and would be familiar to most Americans, unlike Romney’s returns, which illustrate the complexities of the US tax system.

    Ryan’s 2010 tax returns are 59 pages, for example, about the same number that Romney deals with only his transactions with foreign entities.

    Ryan committed last weekend to releasing two years of tax returns, the same amount as Romney. The tax returns were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which noted that much of Ryan’s investment income comes through his wife.

    “These are properties Rep. Ryan ‘married into,’ for lack of a better term,” Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert told the Journal-Sentinel. “He does not play an active role in them and has no plans to.”


    Janna Ryan inherited a trust, worth between $1 million and $5 million, after her mother’s death in 2010.

    Ryan, as well as Romney’s campaign, declined to say how many of his tax returns were provided for the vice presidential selection vetting process - and whether that number differs from the number they’re providing for voters to vet. Romney, who was being considered as a running mate by Senator John McCain in 2008, provided 23 years worth of tax returns to McCain’s campaign.

    The releases of tax returns have played an outsized role during the 2012 presidential race, in large part driven by interest in the returns of Romney, one of the wealthiest candidates to ever run for president. Romney has been reluctant to release his tax returns, and only did so in January under persistent criticism from his Republican primary opponents.

    At the time, Romney released his complete 2010 tax returns, along with an estimate for his 2011 returns. He still hasn’t released his 2011 returns, after filing for an extension.

    Romney paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010 on more than $21.7 million in income; he said he expected to pay 15.4 percent on income of $20.9 million in 2011. Romney has been adamant that he won’t release additional years, despite demands from Democrats that he release more.


    Romney said on Thursday he paid at least 13 percent in each of the last 10 years, a comment that was in part meant to rebut claims from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Romney went 10 years without paying any federal taxes. Reid based those claims on an unnamed source that he said was a Bain Capital investor.

    On Friday, campaign aides for Romney and Obama continued to squabble over the tax return issue, drafting letters to one another and releasing them publicly.

    “Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in a letter to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades.

    Messina said that if Romney released his taxes from 2007 through 2012 – which would be three additional years – then the Obama campaign won’t criticize Romney anymore for not releasing taxes.

    Rhoades responded with a message declining the offer and chiding the Democrats for continuing to focus on Romney’s tax returns.

    “It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney’s tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending,” Rhoades wrote.

    President Obama paid an effective tax rate of 20.5 percent in 2011 on adjusted gross income of $789,674. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife paid an effective rate of 23.2 percent on income of $379,035.

    Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.