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Chart showing Mitt Romney has only released one tax return in last two decades.
Mitt Romney's secret tax returns
Mitt Romney's tax returns are still following him around the globe, but this time, instead of a question about whether he'll release more returns, ABC's David Muir asked Romney a question about what might or not be in those secret tax returns. Specifically, Muir asked Romney whether he's ever paid a lower effective tax rate than 13.9 percent he paid on his 2010 returns. Romney's answer:
I haven't calculated that. I'm happy to go back and look but my view is I've paid all the taxes required by law.
Of course, Mitt will never "go back and look" because if he did that, he'd have an even tougher time justifying his tax return secrecy. And when Muir asked the natural follow-up—"you said you would go back and look, would you look for us?"—Romney backed down.
I haven't looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall.
So, not only did he drop the "happy to look" bluff, he added "so far as I can recall" into the mix—and that's a phrase no politician who is being accused of hiding something should ever use. But even if Romney's recollection is accurate, it's worth noting that by his definition, 13.9 percent is "a very substantial amount of taxes."

That's absurd on it's face, but it's doubly absurd in light of another argument Romney made to Muir. "Frankly, if I had paid more than are legally due, I don't think I'd be qualified to become president," he said. "I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."

In one sense, Romney is right. As long as you're not using Swiss bank accounts and Bermuda shell corporations to shelter income and dodge taxes, nobody should pay more than they are legally required. But Romney is refusing to reveal the information which would show whether or not he exploited the law and took advantage of gray areas.

And all of this would be different if Romney were to say that while he pays 13.9 percent, he recognizes that his tax rate is much lower than other people's tax rates—and that it's not fair for someone of his wealth to pay less than somebody making 1 percent or even 5 percent as much as he does every year. But Romney isn't saying that. He's not just saying that he's paid what he has legally owed, he's described what he's legally owed as "a very substantial" tax burden. Sorry, Mitt: 13.9 percent isn't substantial. Not even close.

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Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 08:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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