No Answers, Only More Questions About Romney’s Taxes
We know that under one version of his running mate Paul Ryan’s plan, Mitt Romney’s income tax rate on more than $20 MILLION in income would’ve come to less than 1 percent. What we don’t know for sure is how much Romney paid in any year except 2010. Yesterday, Romney claimed to have paid at least 13 percent every year for the past 10 years, but he of course offered zero proof for this claim. The American people have literally no way of knowing if this is true or not unless Mitt Romney comes clean and releases his tax returns.
Here’s seven questions about his taxes that Mitt Romney has left unanswered:
1) What kind of taxes? Does that 13 percent cover income taxes, capital gains taxes, or some combination? By Romney’s own admission, nearly all of his income comes from investments (so the low capital gains tax rate helps him drive his overall rate far below that of many middle-class families).
2) What sort of deductions did Romney employ? In addition to the deduction they receive for classifying Ann Romney’s horse as a business, what other deductions are the Romneys using to lower their tax rate?
3) How did Romney’s IRA grow so large? Romney’s retirement account contains more than $100 million, despite annual limits on contributions. How did that happen?
4) What sort of offshore tax strategies does Romney use? While Romney was on the executive committee of Marriott, the company employed complex strategies known as “Son of Boss” to dodge taxes, prompting consequences with the IRS. Did Romney use a similar strategy for his own taxes?
5) Was Romney’s Swiss bank account disclosed on all tax returns for all years?Did he file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) as required by the deadline for each year he had the account?
6) Did Romney participate in the IRS’s settlement initiative for undeclared offshore financial accounts (the amnesty)? In 2009, the IRS gave American citizens a window to declare their Swiss bank accounts and avoid prosecution for tax dodging, before it launched a crackdown on foreign accounts. As Slate’s Matt Yglesias wrote, “Romney might well have thought in 2007 and 2008 that there was nothing to fear about a non-disclosed offshore account he’d set up years earlier precisely because it wasn’t disclosed. But then came the settlement and the rush of non-disclosers to apply for the amnesty.”
7) Why did Romney invest in Houston rental real estate that was explicitly marketed as a tax shelter? As The New York Times reported, Romney was an investor in a real estate scheme in which the organizers “played up the tax shelter benefits.” The deal turned out to be a lousy investment.
Yesterday, Romney also called questions about his taxes and tax returns “very small-minded,” which is an interesting way to characterize the 63 percent of Americans who believe he needs to release more of his tax returns.
Even the Obama campaign sought to offer Romney a way out on the issue, offering to stop attacking him on the issue of tax return secrecy if he’d just release five years of tax returns. This period would cover only the period when he’s been running for president, 2007-2011. The Romney campaign almost immediately refused the deal.
BOTTOM LINE: What is so damning in Mitt Romney’s hidden tax returns that he refuses to reveal them? It’s time for Mitt Romney to come clean with the American people and release more of his tax returns.
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