UPDATE 3:28 p.m.: The returns are slowly showing up on Romney's campaign site (which is crawling along under what we're guessing was the weight of scores of political reporters frantically refreshing the page this afternoon).
Weigel and Yglesias will continue to point out things that are jumping out at them over on their blogs. In the meantime, much of the Beltway buzz about the release appears to be about the campaign's decision to release a "summary" of Romney's older returns, but not the actual documents. (The summary doesn't appear to be live yet, fwiw.)
Alex Castellanos, the former Mitt Romney strategist from 2008 who has alternately been critical and praising of the current campaign, left no doubt where he stands on the decision to release a summary of the candidate's tax rates over 20 years.
"At first I thought this was an April Fool's Joke," said Castellanos, who tweeted something to that effect at me earlier. "But it isn't April. I can't imagine that David Axelrod will now say, I'm glad Mitt put this issue behind him. This will drag Mitt's taxes back into the debate. And there's not many days left. I just can't imagine why they would do this. There are 40 days left and you have now made more of them about Mitt's taxes....you don't serve a life sentence and then confess afterward. They've taken their beating on this (already) ... I just don't understand how a (being) 'little pregnant' strategy (works)."
Original Post 1:58 p.m.: Mitt Romney will release his and his wife's 2011 federal tax returns later today, giving us all the latest peek into the GOP hopeful's finances.
The official release is set for 3 p.m. ET, but the Romney camp is getting out in front of the Friday document dump with a post about a few of the details that it wants everyone to know about the returns.
The post is written by R. Bradford Malt, the man who runs the blind trust that holds the Romneys' investments. Malt writes:
*In 2011, the Romneys paid $1,935,708 in taxes on $13,696,951 in mostly investment income.
*The Romneys’ effective tax rate for 2011 was 14.1%.
*The Romneys donated $4,020,772 to charity in 2011, amounting to nearly 30% of their income.
*The Romneys claimed a deduction for $2.25 million of those charitable contributions.
*The Romneys’ generous charitable donations in 2011 would have significantly reduced their tax obligation for the year. The Romneys thus limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor's statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13% in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.
What is immediately jumping out at a lot of people is that last nugget that says the Romneys actually paid more taxes than they would have had to if they would have taken all of the deductions available to them. New York magazine pulls this relevant Romney quote from a January debate: "I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."
The campaign won't release any of Romney's older tax returns that Democrats have repeatedly called for, but they will release a letter from Malt that provides some details of the Romneys' tax filings dating back two decades. According to the trustee, that letter will show that between 1990 and 2009:
*In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.
*Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.
*Over the entire 20-year period, the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66%.
*Over the entire 20-year period, the Romneys gave to charity an average of 13.45% of their adjusted gross income.
*Over the entire 20-year period, the total federal and state taxes owed plus the total charitable donations deducted represented 38.49% of total AGI.