So Mitt Romney has released his 2011 tax returns and a ‘summary statement’ about his taxes from 20 previous years. It was interesting that he released them on Friday afternoon, the ‘Friday news dump’ time, which is the traditional period for releasing news that you don’t want people to pay much attention to. I think this practice arose from the times when people got much of their news from the broadcast TV networks and few people watched them on weekends when they were often pre-empted by sports events.
I don’t think this is true anymore. In fact, I think that in the world of 24/7 cable news and internet, the weekend is when news junkies catch up on stuff that they did not have time for during the week. At least that is true for me.
Will this limited release of information end discussion about the tax issue for Romney? I doubt it. There is much there for people to scrutinize and it has already begun. Nick Baumann and Adam Serwer at Mother Jones highlight 9 Things to Know About Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns while Rick Newman at US News and World Report discusses The Mysteries in Mitt Romney’s Tax Return. Both articles show how rich people can move income and tax payments and deductions around to vary their taxes in ways that are not available to ordinary wage earners.
What I found amusing is that after saying in July that “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires”, it turns out that in his 2011 taxes Romney had paid more than was legally due. He had deliberately claimed less in charitable deductions than what he was allowed.
Why would he do that? Apparently because in response to Harry Reid goading him that he may have not paid any taxes at all in some years, Romney had made the statement that he had paid at least 13% tax rate in each of the past 10 years. If he had taken the full allowable deduction in 2011, it would have been less. So he has been hoist with his own petard. But it turns out that Romney can file an amended return after the election and claim the full deduction and get a refund of the extra taxes. Anyone willing to bet on whether he will do that if he loses?
Meanwhile, it turns out that his running mate also has a wee problem with his taxes. Yesterday, Paul Ryan revealed that he had ‘overlooked’ $61,122 in extra income when he had filed his 2011 taxes, raising his tax liability by $19,917.
This is one crazy campaign.