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Inquiring minds want to know.  

So long as Mitt refuses to disclose his tax returns, speculation will only continue.  Whatever it is, it's worse than the speculation.  It's a potential campaign killer.

Here is one possible reason, and it is certainly a realistic possibility for the 2009 Tax Year return:

Deadline looms for Americans to disclose accounts in foreign tax havens.
Oct. 13, 2009

Wealthy U.S. taxpayers, concerned about an Internal Revenue Service crackdown on the use of secret overseas bank accounts as tax havens, are rushing to meet a Thursday deadline to disclose those accounts or face possible criminal prosecution.  The concern was triggered this summer when Switzerland's largest bank, caught up in an international tax evasion dispute, said it would disclose the names of more than 4,000 of its U.S. account holders.

The decision shattered a long-held belief that Swiss banks would guard the identities of its American customers as carefully as they did their money, and it raised concern that other international tax havens might be next.  Under an amnesty program, the IRS is allowing taxpayers to avoid prosecution for having failed to report their overseas accounts.  As a result, tax attorneys across the nation have been besieged by wealthy clients who are lining up to apply even though they will still face big financial penalties.

LA Times, Oct. 13, 2009: Deadline looms for Americans to disclose accounts in foreign tax havens

Mathew Yglesias wonders if Romney had an illegal account for which he took advantage of the amnesty.

Romney might well have thought in 2007 and 2008 that there was nothing to fear about a non-disclosed offshore account he'd set up years earlier precisely because it wasn't disclosed. But then came the settlement and the rush of non-disclosers to apply for the amnesty. Failing to apply for the amnesty and then getting charged by the IRS would have been both financially and politically disastrous. So amnesty it was. But even though the amnesty would eliminate any legal or financial liability for past acts, it would hardly eliminate political liability.
Slate, Matthew Yglesias: Did Mitt Romney Take the 2009 Swiss Bank Account Amnesty

Mitt likes those overseas accounts.  Cayman Islands, Switzerland, etc.  

Do you think he would have resisted getting a non-disclosed one in Switzerland?  Hell, that is a luxury good that says you've made it in his social set.  

He knew the Swiss would never disclose it, until they were forced to do so and the IRS came up with the amnesty.  Had to take it or be publicly branded a criminal.  He was running for President even back then.

As Yglesias says:

But even though the amnesty would eliminate any legal or financial liability for past acts, it would hardly eliminate political liability.
That would be worth stonewalling forever.  A real possibility as to why he won't release the return for the 2009 Tax Year.

If there's smoke ....

Will the tradmed ask Romney?

Update I: The evidence grows:

Although Romney's campaign declined to comment for this article, in January, Brad Malt, the manager of Ann Romney's blind trust, told reporters the Romneys had an account with Swiss bank UBS worth about $3 million, which generated roughly $1,700 in interest. Malt said the account was set up for "diversification" in 2003 -- a claim that puzzles tax and investment experts, who note that all of the investment options available in Switzerland are available in American accounts. Malt said the account was closed in 2010.


That Romney's disclosed account was with Swiss bank UBS has also raised eyebrows. In 2008, a whistleblower at the bank informed the IRS of thousands of accounts being operated by American clients to avoid paying U.S. taxes. For Americans, the coveted Swiss secrecy suddenly became a legal liability.

So much information was turned over to the IRS that it would have been extremely difficult for the agency to pursue cases against every offender. So the IRS established a special tax amnesty program, which allowed those who voluntarily turned themselves in to remain anonymous and pay limited penalties. Thousands of citizens have since come forward.

"It's unclear why he would have valued the Swiss bank account secrecy, and it wouldn't have enabled him legally to avoid U.S. tax," said Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at New York University School of Law. "This is why there's speculation that he was into the amnesty program."

We don't know.  Easy for Romney to prove this speculation wrong.  Release the returns.

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