Romney’s tax saga continues

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.


  1. Rodney Nelson says

    Paul Ryan revealed that he had ‘overlooked’ $61,122 in extra income

    According to wikipedia, the American median income for 2010 was less than that:

    Regionally, in 2010, the Northeast reached a median income of $53,283, the West, $53,142, the South, $45,492, and the Midwest, $48,445.

  2. says

    From what I understand, the 20-year “summary statement” is a bit of a dodge as well. Instead of getting his total income for 20 years and his total tax burden, and using those two numbers to come up with a total tax rate, the number given is an average of the tax rate paid each year. This is important.

    Why 20 years instead of ten? Because he gets to include the years where he made less and paid a higher rate, to balance out the more recent years where he paid a lower rate on much more income. Who gives a shit if in 1993 he paid 35% on $300,000, if in 2007 he paid 10% on $13 million?

  3. Corvus illustris says

    Ryan alleges that he “just overlooked” income from a family trust–but trust income produces a 1041 K-1 form, analogous to a W-2 or a 1099. The beneficiary gets a copy; the feds get a copy directly from the trustee, and they share with Wisconsin (which has had an income tax since dinosaurs roamed the earth). Trying to cheat would be futile, and he probably first heard about this “oversight” from the IRS. Whether Ryan does his own taxes or has an accountant, this matter reflects in the small his obvious tax incompetence in the large.

  4. hoary puccoon says

    The biggest issue for me is that Romney avoided taxes by shipping a huge amount of money into accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

    The biggest criticism of sending US aid to dictatorships is that the money doesn’t go to improving the receiving country, it goes to Swiss bank accounts for the very wealthy. This is *exactly* what has happened to the Bush tax cuts. The superrich don’t see attractive investment opportunities in America because the working and middle classes aren’t spending. So the rich are shipping their excess offshore, not investing in America. Taxing the superrich more and using the money on stimulus spending for the working and middle classes will actually result in MORE investment in America; because the superrich will see America as a more attractive market.

    I also fear what the rest of the world will think of America if we elect a president whose opinion of American promise is, “get your money out now!”

  5. lorn says

    It’s like a bloody fan dance. A good fan dancer can keep all eyes focused and minds racing imagining what might have been seen while remaining a hair’s breadth from showing anything.

    Is Willard so dense and unaware of the human mind and effects of partial disclosure that he doesn’t know this is only going to make people more curious about what is not being revealed? Is he so disconnected to normal human curiosity and experience that he doesn’t know that the entire performance art of burlesque is based upon keeping the mind focused on things not revealed. Doing it by allowing them to be nearly exposed. How the mind focuses on and runs wild trying to picture what is not quite shown.

    If Mittens thinks this is going to satisfy anyone who wasn’t already satisfied he is fooling himself. This just raises more questions. It is also entertaining to see his campaign make such rookie mistakes.

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