Why Romney won't release his tax returns: 6 theories

Romney digs in his heels even as some Republicans say it's time for him to give the public a better look at his personal finances.

By TheWeek.com Jul 17, 2012 4:50PM

With President Obama's campaign hammering Mitt Romney over his personal finances, even some Republicans have begun calling for the presumptive GOP nominee to release more than two years of his tax returns. Conservative political analysts say Romney is allowing people to assume he has something to hide. "It's crazy" not to release several more years of returns, "tomorrow," says William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard


Despite the pressure, Romney said Monday on Fox News that he was releasing his 2010 and 2011 returns, and nothing more. Why won't he turn over documents from other years? Here, six theories:


1. Romney's income might have been extremely high

 

Romney earned $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million in 2011, says John Cassidy at The New Yorker. That's a lot of money, "but Romney may well have earned considerably more in earlier years." In fact, Romney's 10-year severance agreement with Bain Capital ended in 2009, so going back just one more year might tell a lot about how the mysterious deal "allowed Romney to keep pocketing a substantial portion of the firm's profits. And the years before 2008 were massively successful ones for Bain and other private-equity firms."


2. His tax rate might have been close to zero

 

Romney might have done "something that was kind of shady — not in an illegal sense," to bring his tax rate way down, Martin Sullivan of Tax Analysts tells Agence France Presse. Since Romney's income in the return he has already released from 2010 came from investments, not income, it was taxed at 15 percent, less than half what he would have paid for the same income in a paycheck. Let's say he got his effective tax rate to five percent or even to zero. "That would be damning," as it would reinforce Team Obama's efforts to portray Romney as rich and "out of touch." 


3. Romney might actually have something to hide

 

As conservative commentator George Will and others have pointed out, Romney knows withholding his returns is hurting his campaign, says Daniel Shaviro at Start Making Sense, so it's logical to assume whatever is in the returns is worse. Remember all the talk about Romney's Swiss bank account? "There was an IRS amnesty program in 2009 for fraudulent nondisclosure of offshore income." If Romney came clean that year, "this might be embarrassing." One thing we do know: Romney's 2010 return showed a net capital loss carryforward from 2009, the year when his last windfall of deferred interest came from his "retroactive retirement" from Bain. This suggests Romney might have done some "extremely aggressive tax sheltering" in 2009 that voters might frown on.


4. Each return provides a reminder of Romney's Mormonism

 

Romney's tax returns "reveal the extent of his tithing to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. His 2010 return, for example, showed that he had given roughly $4.1 million to the LDS Church, all of it tax deductible. Letting the public see year after year of records would "emphasize Romney's Mormon ties at a time the campaign might not want to do so." 


5. Romney is just being arrogant 

 

"There is nothing in those tax returns that is in any way illegal," says Charles P. Pierce at Esquire. Romney's high income and low tax rate won't tell us anything we don't know already. It's no secret that "our tax code — and, indeed, our entire economic system — has been gamed to benefit the folks in Romney's economic stratum." Romney merely has contempt for a process that requires someone of his wealth and privilege to show deference to people who have neither. "The Help" — that's the rest of us — "has no right to go pawing through the family books." 


6. He won't give in to attempts to divert attention from Obama

 

There's a perfectly good reason for Romney to refuse to release his tax returns, says Bob Webster at WEBCommentary: They "are none of anyone's business." The U.S. tax code is a mess, and "antagonistic lawyers" could pick apart the personal returns of anyone at Romney's income level. It would be "insane" for Romney to give in. "The whole non-issue is designed to be part of a smokescreen to cover up the gross ineptitude" of President Obama during his four disastrous years in office.


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100Comments
Jul 17, 2012 6:47PM
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McCain  saw  several  years  of   Romney's   tax  returns  and  refused  to  consider  him  as  VP  in  McCain's  2008  presidential  race.  Too  much   damaging   info,  it  is  said.  The  public  is  going  to   hate  what  they  found.
Jul 21, 2012 1:41AM
Jul 19, 2012 12:49PM
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YOU THINK THE AVERAGE WORKING FOLK HAS PROBLEMS NOW UNDER THIS PRESENT ADMINISTRATION,WAIT UNTIL MR. ROMNEY GETS IT AND UNLOCKS THE DOORS  AND IN THE PROCESS

ROLLS BACK ALL THE LEGISLATION THAT THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION HAS PASSED IN AN EFFORT TO

PROTECT COMMON FOLKS FROM THE CORPORATE WOLFS LIKE ROMNEY.

GO AHEAD AND GIVE HIM YOUR VOTE HE WILL IMMEDIATELY BRING BACK ALL THE JOBS TO AMERICA,LOWER YOUR TAXES,GIVE YOU FREE HEALTHCARE AND IF HE HAS ANY MONEY LEFT HE WILL ALSO SET UP A TRUST FUND HERE IN AMERICA OF COURSE FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

AFTER ALL MR. ROMNEY BELIEVES IN AMERICA THATS WHY HE  HAS A  SWISS BANKS ACCOUNT. 

IT REMINDS ME OF THE LYRICS FROM AN OLD 60-SONG I BELIEVE BY RAY STEVENS PLEASE CORRECT IF I AM WRONG PART OF THE LYRIC SAID {EYES WHO WILL NOT SEE}.

WHY HAVE AN ACCOUNT IN A SWISS BANK  OR THE CAYMAN ISLANDS WITH SO MANY BAKS IN AMERICA.

WHY THE OFFSHORE TRUST FUNDS TO AVOID TAXES,WHY NOT LEAVE THE TRUST FUND IN AMERICA AND PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE LIKE THE REST OF US.  I HOPE HE IS ELECTED SO THAT ALL OF US COULD HAVE A BRIGHTER FUTURE... YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU MUST ALSO BELIEVE IN THE TOOTH FAIRY...

Jul 19, 2012 5:20PM
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Only two reasons suffice: 1 and 2 combined.

 

He'd have to explain to the average Joe who is prohibited from puttng more than $28,500 combined into retirement accounts this year (if over 50) exactly how he managed to get tens of millions of dollars in there in the first place. THEN explain to us poor suckers why THAT money gets to grow tax sheltered, while the excess money from mere mortals gets zapped...

Jul 21, 2012 1:45AM
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If the majority of people aspire to be wealthy, why would he hide his returns?
We already know he has over $200 million - and maybe over $250 million.


Jul 18, 2012 4:09PM
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Seems likely to be all of the above. 

The GOP knows Mitt is wealthy beyond comprehension and that's why they never put a good foot forward in vetting him. Now we'll probably lose this election to Obama without an honest fight and discussion of the issues. I miss the days when, "being conservative," didn't just mean, "being rich."

These neo-cons have ruined it for the people who 'are' conservative, not 'are a' conservative.

Mitt never should have made it this far. Too many skeletons in his closest to put up a good fight.
Jul 26, 2012 9:28AM
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The reason Romney won't release his returns is because they must contain information which if made public would  be detrimental to his campaign. In other words, the tax returns must contain information which Romney wants to keep from the voters. Otherwise Romney would release his returns.
Jul 18, 2012 1:40PM
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Do you think Mitt's 5 sons have Swiss accounts and off shore shelter accounts?

Just asking. Acorn does not fall far from tree.

 

Mitt's dad was a stand up guy and set high standards, this acorn must have rolled into the gutter with the rest of the politicians. 

 

Jul 17, 2012 5:06PM
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The Governors new campaign song.. 


I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

Jul 19, 2012 4:25PM
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TO ADD TO MY POST COMMON SENSE TELLS ME IF YOU HAVE A GUY THAT IS NOT PRESIDENT YET PLAYING

HIDE AND SEEK AT THIS POINT AND TIME WITH HIS TAX RETURNS HOW CAN YOU TRUST THIS GUY WHEN HE GETS INTO OFFICE, WHAT IS HE GOING TO HIDE THEN.PERSONNALLY TO ME HIS HANDS ARE DIRTY ONE WAY OR ANOTHER IF NOT THERE WOULD BE NO ISSUE.THAT AND THE OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS ,TRUST FUNDS AND THE REST THAT WE DONT KNOW ABOUT HOW CAN YOU TRUST THIS GUY.

AND AS FAR AS THE PRESIDENT AND HIS BIRTH CERTICATE BEING A FAKE,IF IN FACT HE WAS BORN IN ANOTHER COUNTRY LOGIC TELLS ME WHEN HE APPLIED TO RUN FOR THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND

AT A TIME WHEN A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION WAS IN PLACE DO THE PEOPLE WHERE THE FILING TAKES PLACE NOT GO OVER AND MAKE SURE THAT ALL THE PAPERWORK IS LEGIT RIGHT THERE AND THEN ESPECIALLY AT THAT LEVEL AND RUNNING FOR AN OFFICE THAT HAS SO MUCH POWER .COME ON GET REAL WHY WAS IT NOT STOPPED THERE AND THEN .ANOTHER FACT A BLACK PERSON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT...YOU ALL KNOW DAMM WELL HE WAS GONE OVER WITH THE BIGGEST MAGNIFYING GLASS THE REPUBLICANS COULD BUY.

OR  THE REAL TRUE STORY MUST BE THE DEMOCRATS INSERTED THEIR OWN PEOPLE TO WORK AT THIS OFFICE KNOWING THAT OBAMA WAS GOING TO FILE AND THE ONLY WAY HE COULD FOOL THE SYSTEM

WAS TO HAVE DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES IN PLACE SO OBAMA SLIPPED BY UNNOTICED.

COME ON PEOPLE GET REAL.

LIKE I SAID BEFORE HOPEFULLY MITT WILL GET IN SO THAT EVERYBODY WILL HAVE A BRIGHT FUTURE,THAT IS IF YOU BELONG TO THE SUPER RICH AND WANT TO CONTINUE TO PAY VERY LITTLE TAXES,BUT IFYOU BELONG TO THE GROUP OF THE WORKING FOLK LIKE ME YOU ARE IN FOR BIG SURPRISE...

 

Aug 1, 2012 5:15PM
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Romney, will not give up his secretes, on how he pays no taxes. It  will be all over if he did reviel. So just let him go his way ...Obama will eat him up at the debates... That is if Romney doesn't back out of them...  Mitt would save us all a lot of money if he just dropped out know!
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ANYBODY HERE READ OBAMA'S BOOKS?   THERE'S TRANSPARENCY!   ALSO, THERE'S A LOT MORE TO RUNNING A COUNTRY THAN  THERE IS TO RUNNING A BUSINESS.   WHAT DOES ROMNEY KNOW OTHER THAN BUSINESS AND ...... HIS BUSINESS WAS MAKING MONEY ONLY.   THAT DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO JOB CREATION.   ANYBODY WHO THINKS IT DOES KNOWS LITTLE ABOUT BUSINESS.   ANOTHER THING, ROMNEY WAS BORN RICH.   HE MADE MONEY BECAUSE HE HAD MONEY.   REMEMBER THE OLD SAW?   'IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY.'
Jul 18, 2012 4:49PM
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I wonder how the bully who in view of other students, which requires a certain type of person not at all ashamed of his behavior, knocked down a student he thought was effeminate, forcibly cutting his hair, I wonder how this Romney bully feels now that his richness, his connections, and his arrogance are just not attractive ANYMORE.  A bully who worked in Bain, a corporation of bullies that closed down factories, moved jobs overseas, who has a live and let die attitude toward American citizens, a bully who ran smear ads against his Republican opponents, a bully... a bully then and a bully now.  No shame.  Hence the hiding of the taxes.
Jul 29, 2012 3:53PM
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Just as with the Bush campaign, where people were mesmerized and thought they were ready for a change, they lived to regret it - so much so, we're still trying to dig ourselves out of that mess, but they don't want to be reminded it's their mess which we're still cleaning up!   As if we're supposed to ERASE what happened in those two terms of 2000 through 2008.

 

Republicans love to argue that it's not a big deal that Romney won't submit his financials as other presidential candidates have; every gaffe, every insult; every bad decision, lie, and bad move he makes;  his campaing's mantra is ... " it's no big deal, it won't matter, people will still vote for him".  The arrogance of this party, this extremist Teabagger/Republican party...  is he running for President or King of the World? 

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some don't seem to understand the severity of the situation created by republican policies.   is anyone here old enough to remember the great depression?   the stock market crash?   banks shuttered?   people starving?

i FIRMLY BELIEVE that those benefiting the most should pay the most.   yes, there are those who do not pay income taxes because of subsistence living.   they also use the least and benefit the least, financially.   they have little impact on our resources and/or our land.   they're not cluttering our shorelines with monuments to themselves or destroying the rainforests in brazil.   they are innocent.   many have values that do not include financial wealth.   they work to pay their bills, not to accumulate wealth.

the republican arguments just don't make sense.   they are the arguments of an oligarchy.

Jul 19, 2012 11:18AM
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I don't know what the big deal is. He should show his tax returns the same as other candidates have. If he has something to hide he should just get it out there and be done with it.

 

I also agree that Obama should provide an original birth certificate . Again, if he has one from America, what's the problem?

 

Methinks they are both protesting entirely too much over what should be  very simple matters. The only answer seems to be that there is something rotten in Denmark.

Jul 19, 2012 12:41PM
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Everyone here tends to think that Romney is incompetent.  I tend to think the opposite - I think Romney is smart and wants to use this distraction from the Obama campaign to its maximum benefit.  Mitt is waiting for a better time to release his tax returns so that everyone can see that the Obama campaign (and the president himself) was straining very hard at a gnat while the President wasn't doing HIS job (you know like helping improve the economy).  Romney will blow away the tax return "smokescreen cover[ing] up the gross ineptitude of President Obama during his four disastrous years in office."  He will most likely do this at a time where Pres. Obama has little time to recover.  Obama will not have this "smokescreen" and will be left unprepared to talk about his "hope and change" presidency. 

Aug 3, 2012 1:27PM
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99% > 1%. Obama knows that but Romney. Obama just goes after the numbers nothing else.

Jul 27, 2012 11:22PM
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Where do you guys get all that nonsense,
Jul 25, 2012 12:18PM
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Hey, did you hear? 

One million liberals attended Obama's speech on Monday...Only 4 missed work.

 

Get a job and pay your own taxes.  

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