What is Romney hiding and why?

Aug 24, 2012 | | 0 comments |

It's traditional, but not required, that presidential nominees release copies of their tax returns. The posting of the returns is a form of trust despite the fact that only an accountant could understand them. This is a standard set by George Romney in 1968 when he released 12 years of returns whilst running as a presidential candidate. The Clintons released 8 years. Both Bush's (senior and junior) released 3 years and 7 years respectively. Reagan released 6 years. Barack Obama has released 11 years worth (even showing he overpaid by $8,000 on the income from his books last year). Mitt Romney still steadfastly refuses. Sort of.
At first he said he didn't plan to release the returns. Then he said, "Maybe." Then he declared he'd release only the previous two years' returns. Then he said that because of the complexity of the return, he filed for an extension from the IRS so he could file after the April 15 deadline for the 2011 return. Then this past week before a fundraiser he said he "never paid less than 13%. . . . So I paid taxes every single year." (Most of Romney's 2011 reported income was capital gains - the tax on which was lowered to 15% by Bush in 2003 in order to benefit the rich.) He expected us just to believe him? Wouldn't that be awesome if we could all just phone the IRS and tell them how much we paid in tax and expect them to believe us? Mitt never defined whether that 13% was just income taxes, or included all taxes paid, including social security, local, and state taxes (thus making the federal income tax even lower). If he meant income taxes, 13% is extremely low. Especially compared to the average American's 25%.
Given how many lawyers and accountants Romney has, why did he need a 5-month extension on the tax return? Strange how all his accountants are perfectly capable of working the complex tax code with all its special interest loopholes, ensuring Mitt gets everything wealthy Americans are entitled to, but they seemingly can't get his tax return done by the deadline the rest of us have to use. I'm guessing they could, but knowing he'd be forced to reveal it, they spent those 5 months massaging the data in an attempt to make it more digestable for the public. Yes it's legal, but is it ethical for someone running for president? I wonder how many other deductions the Romneys had in the past 10 years that were larger than the average US salary? (I'm thinking of their $77,000 deduction for a show horse). More to the point, if he can't get his personal finances done without an extension, how is he going to manage the budget of an entire country?
I understand LDS members typically tithe at least 10%, correct? The Romneys claim they gave $2.5M last year, meaning their income was at least $25M. Now he's claiming he won't release earlier returns because his LDS tithing is "between him and his God". I'm sorry but that doesn't wash - he's already exposed his 2010 and 2011 tithing. Why attempt to hide behind that as excuse for previous years? Specifically he's very adamant about not giving up his 2009 return. Is this because he took advantage of the IRS amnesty in that year to disclose hidden income in offshore accounts? The amnesty that year allowed people to escape criminal prosecution for tax evasion. We know he has bank accounts in Switzerland, the Caymans and Bermuda too - not something the "average" American has (and until recently, not something many Americans knew the Romneys had). Offshore accounts are typically a haven for hiding money; did he declare those in 2009 and how much is in them?
For someone who vehemently insisted that Obama produce a birth certificate - a far more personal and important document, Romney sure is being very suspicious with his tax returns. The longer he stonewalls and hides this information, the more it looks like he has something to hide - in some cases, the more it makes him look like an outright liar. Why not just produce the returns? It's not a matter of how much he earns, its a matter of trust. All Americans - not just the democrats - should be pursuing this matter simply on trust alone. It's appalling how the GOP are treating it as if it's no big deal. If Romney is untrustworthy now, he's certainly not going to change if he takes office. And we know what happened last time an outright liar took office - we're still in those wars today.
More info on Presidential tax returns : taxhistory.org