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Mitt Romney and Bain buddies, before they sought membership in the victim class (the one that does not pay federal income taxes)
Mitt Romney thought if he doled out a few meaningless details about his tax history, voters would be satisfied, too stupid to realize we didn't actually know much more about how he conducted his business and fulfilled his obligations (or not) to the government over the past 20 years. But voters aren't as stupid as Romney thinks we are, and we still have as many questions as answers on his taxes. ProPublica rounds up three of the giant questions. Like, how did Mitt get $100 million into an IRA? And:
How much did Romney make before 2010?

While Romney has disclosed his average effective tax rate for the last two decades, he hasn’t said how much he earned in those years or how much—the dollar amount—he paid in taxes.

That’s an important distinction, said Daniel Shaviro, a tax law professor at New York University. Various tax-planning strategies may have enabled Romney to reduce his adjusted gross income in some years.

This question maybe more than anything shows how meaningless the letter Romney's accountants put out is: It's supposed to make us stop asking questions, but we still don't know how much money he earned before 2010. Or really how he earned that money, for that matter. Another of ProPublica's questions is really an umbrella question:
What about Romney’s investments offshore?
Good question! We don't know how much money Romney has in which countries. We don't know whether he's consistently declared his foreign income to the IRS when and how he should. We don't know what taxes he's used foreign investments to avoid.

These questions just scratch the surface. We know Romney's average tax rate per year, but not his cumulative tax rate. We don't know how many people work for him as household staff, or how much he pays them. In short, Mitt Romney is running for an office for which it's traditional to release several years of tax returns, at a minimum, and he's released two. He's running for president on the basis of his business career and his supposed fitness to run the economy, but he won't let us see how he has managed his own business. Basically, Mitt Romney is asking you to vote for him because he's rich, but he's refusing to let you see the details of how he got that way.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Do we even know if he's worth (5+ / 0-)

    $200 million or $2 billion?

    He's taken some heat for this, but surprisingly little, in a way. Maybe if he weren't such a 'target rich environment' he'd take more. But the fact that he's said he won't release his taxes because there's stuff in there that the American people would find distasteful (ie, the Democrats will use politically) and yet the aren't a dozen 'TAXGATE 2012: DAY 44' type headers on all the political shows really makes me wish we had our own Drudge Report. I can see the sirens and the countdown clock ...

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:00:05 AM PDT

    •  My guess is he's a billionaire, but that (6+ / 0-)

      wouldn't play well with voters, so he's been consistently downplaying his wealth, just like he didn't claim all his deductions this year just so he could report a higher percentage of income paid in taxes (he'll amend his returns November 7th to undo that).  

      I expect he's probably been very close to the legal line for his taxes, but I expect he's got a very good army of lawyers and accountants who are protecting him from the audits he probably undergoes every year.  I have no doubt that his return gets checked over by the IRS every year not because he's a candidate, but because he's very wealthy and because he's doing all he can to minimize his taxes.  I'm sure America would not agree with all of his deductions and machinations as to whether they're legal, but I would be shocked if the IRS hasn't at least checked them thoroughly.  Perception being what it is, though, if America believes he's a tax cheat, he'd be finished, no matter whether he had a certificate from the IRS giving him a gold (platinum?) star.

      •  Is his $20 million income separate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim

        from his wealth? I assume that's severance from Bain, and that most of his income is being reinvested.

        "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

        by CFAmick on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:41:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know. I haven't read through his (0+ / 0-)

          returns, so I don't know if that's capital gains or some other compensation.  Somehow he's able to only pay 14% on it, so it's not straight-up compensation.  I think after he left Bain he was only paid about 100K/year in compensation, but I'm probably misremembering it.

          •  I think he's a billionaire, too (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ColoTim

            That $250 million dollar number has been around for a long time now. He's no doubt leveraged to the hilt, as well.

            "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

            by CFAmick on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:27:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Forbes published an analysis around May this (0+ / 0-)

              year and I just read it after this comment.  They tried to determine from his filings and how they changed over time how much wealth he had.  They pegged it around 240 million.  I think they probably did an honest effort, but I didn't read far enough to see if that included his IRA (I don't think it did) and I could easily believe he's got a lot more hidden away where he doesn't have to disclose it to anyone.

  •  The easiest way to accumulate money is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless, Candide08, greengemini

    to steal it.
    That said, even if Willard didn't steal any money, he surely didn't earn it. He's a confidence man and he ran a series of stings.  Or rather, he served as the front man or shill.
    His sons claim that Mrs. Mitt is his stabilizer.  Well, if you saw the picture Horace is passing around from Twitter, you can judge how much that stability is worth.
    Apparently, when they're not running a scam, Mr. and Mrs. Mitt get taken in, as the purchase of that house in La Jolla proves.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:16:31 AM PDT

  •  The questions may stop when he loses... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue aardvark, shoeless, Candide08

    ...then again...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:48:44 AM PDT

  •  We know how Mitt got $100M into an IRA (5+ / 0-)

    He lied through his teeth about the value of the assets he transferred in, and then was "pleasantly surprised" when portions of privately held Bain investments he allegedly thought were worth very little turned out to be worth 10x or 100x or 100x what he said.

    So he's either a tax cheat and pathological liar, or an extremely poor judge of the value of Bain assets who made money by blind luck.

    Choose one.

    Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

    by blue aardvark on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:59:29 AM PDT

  •  what and how did he pay his staff (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless

    was it all in CASH,

    •  vet - I read somewhere on DKOS (0+ / 0-)

      That a few years ago he had all his employees switch to be the employees of a service and assigned to him. That way they aren't his direct employees and it made it easier to keep everything about their compensation and duties confidential. You can't run for POTUS and have a big staff you pay in cash. It's just too visible and illegal. As we have learned you can't be a cabinet member if you have had a single nanny paid in cash at any time in your life.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:41:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I bet the Mormon Church doesn't want to know what (5+ / 0-)

    his actual income was all those years.  The chances are excellent that he fudged his tithing as well as his taxes and they don't need their most prominent member and wife being shown to be underpaying.  It would toss the whole honor system basis of their income stream into disrepute, likely causing much dissent among the middle class church members who play by the church's rules.

    And if you want to rate the reasons Mitt isn't showing his previous years' returns, put tithing discrepancies right at the top of that pile; it's little noted that his 2010 return showed a tithe level to the church that was well under the 10% threshold for "good standing" status.  His 2011 tithe was adjusted accordingly, retroactively.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

    by nailbender on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:02:01 AM PDT

    •  Tithe and tax may use different basis for (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shoeless, Cassandra Waites, VClib

      accounting.  Tax calculates income using pass-through basis, wherein income is attributed to the taxpayer even when it isn't actually received, while the only commentary I've seen about this issue says that the religious adherent can use a cash basis of accounting, wherein income is only counted when actually received by the adherent.

      And, since Mittens is a bishop, I'm guessing he could make the call which basis of accounting to make use of.

      •  His public statements on the matter are that he (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shoeless, Cassandra Waites

        tithes based on his gross income.  And yes, he can use the cash basis for tithing, but if the returns were to come to light, it would be very simple to average his gross income for, say, 5 years and then also average his tithing for that same period.  It should come out close to 10% if he's being straight with his religious convictions.

        "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

        by nailbender on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:20:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Did he partake of the 2009 federal tax amnesty? (8+ / 0-)

    THAT is what I want to know first and foremost. Not sure I give a hang about anything else.

    !! Four more years !!

    by raincrow on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:03:53 AM PDT

  •  NO HE HASN'T (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless, Cassandra Waites
    Romney has disclosed his average effective tax rate
    What he disclosed was the average of the rates- NOT the average rate.

    As PWC well knows, the first is a meaningless statistic.

    (For example, a ballplayer who got a hit in one at bat in one year ( batting average 1.000, and never got a hit in 500 at bats the next year (batting average 0.000) would have an average rate of .500 if you averaged the rates, but a true batting average only of 0.020.

    Lyin' sons of b's

    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

    by BPARTR on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:04:59 AM PDT

  •  When I want real (8+ / 0-)

    investigative journalism, I read ProPublica.  Sure, they aren't on top of every story every day -- that's because journalism, as Ann Romney would say, is hard.  Those folks are consistently spot on -- and thanks to the husband and wife (I have an awful memory for names) who fund this amazing enterprise.  I know Candy Crowley (R-moran) won't ask it.

    My one question for the debates -- Mr. Romney, did you take advantage of the amnesty program to avoid criminal charges regarding your Swiss and offshore accounts?

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:05:43 AM PDT

  •  We have an important answer to one question (4+ / 0-)

    It isn't the questions that ProPublica asked but it is important and worth considering.

    Can Mitt Romney be  trusted to tell the truth about his taxes??

    Been there done that with his residency in 2002. He said "you'll just have to trust me" or something like that and he lied.

    He can't be trusted on this anymore than anything else; but I would still like to hear more answers and pile up his record of lies.

  •  If making money is the highest good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless

    and the highest morality and the highest priority ... then the privacy and security and confidentiality of your financial life becomes the highest and most sacred trust of all.  This is the one principle that Romney REALLY believes in, and will go to the mat for.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:10:32 AM PDT

  •  Did he take the amnesty in 2009? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless

    That, I think, is the key question.  If he took it, it would in effect be a confession that he illegally stashed money overseas, and he took the deal to have his crime forgiven in exchange for paying the taxes he owed.

    As long as he doesn't release his 2009 returns this should be the first question anyone asks him about his taxes.

  •  A bigger question is how much Romney actually (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless, Cassandra Waites

    paid in income tax.  The letter from Price Waterhouse only talks about what he owed.  The effective tax rate is calculated on the basis of what he owed, not what he paid.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:15:44 AM PDT

  •  The public is his Boss (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shoeless, Cassandra Waites

    And he just does not understand.  He is so aclimated to being the Man in Charge that he is physically incapable of acting in any other mode.

    Running for POTUS is a job interview, and when you apply for a job, as he should know, you are required to present your credentials.  A responsible employer should check these presented credentials and make their hiring decisions based on those, on personal references, and on a general impression of the applicant as a person.

    Romney has failed on all counts.  (His credentials as a "job creator" are suspect.  People don't like him as person.  He has no empathy.  He is robotic.  He doesn't fit into the "corporate culture" required of POTUS, i.e., he is a lousy politician.)

    Well, he's about to understand how it feels not to be hired.  (After 2008 he should be used to it by now though.)

  •  Mitt is hiding something...everything (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lying eyes, hulibow, Cassandra Waites

    Even Republicans agree that the only reason Mitt Romney is refusing to follow in the footsteps of both his father and every modern presidential candidate and release all of his tax returns is that he has something devastating to hide. Mitt needs to come clean so the American people can see this for themselves and judge whether he is still qualified for the job of commander in chief. He is running the most secretive campaign in recent history, refusing to comply with simple requests and attacking those who demand the truth with the most vicious and aggressive language.  Romney needs to release everything.    -  progressive

  •  Is Romney including taxes paid to other countries (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hulibow

    is calculating his tax rate?

    I'll bet he has paid more taxes to entities outside the US than inside the US.

  •  A question: (0+ / 0-)

    Suppose that Romney had capital losses in some years that were greater than his capital gains, and no other income.  Would he then claim that he had no income in that year and pay zero?  Or maybe in some years he had capital losses and only a very small amount of other income, and he paid taxes on the other income at roughly the rate paid by normal people.  Is that possible?  

    •  Not given what we know. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      Capital losses can't offset other sorts of income.  Mittens had $3MM of interest and some dividends, and capital losses can't offset those.  So even in a year in which he had net losses, he probably paid some tax on the interest and dividend income

  •  Above all else (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AmazingBlaise, susanWAstate

    Rmoney MUST NOT reveal the extent to which 'special' money is favored in the tax code. 'special' = 1%.

    This is the real elephant in the room. If Mr & Mrs America were to understand just how everything in Washington favors the rich, I'd be selling a lot more build-it-yourself guillotine plans.

    There's nothing much wrong with a closed mind that a closed mouth wouldn't cure.

    by numi on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:30:23 AM PDT

  •  As the so argh-ticulate George Bush once said, (0+ / 0-)

    fool me once, shame on you, umh, duh, ah...we won't get fooled again.

    These questions smack of Cheney's lack of candor regarding his energy policy meetings with Big Oil. Cheney kept those sessions secret and never revealed anything. Cheney never paid any consequences for his obfuscation.

    I doubt Romney will be any different.
    He would rather lose than reveal Harry Reid was correct in stating Romney paid no taxes for some years to the IRS.

    I don't think the voters will accept this and while we may not get an answer, the foolishness ends soon.

    What are their names and on what street do they live-David Crosby-"If I Could Only Remember My Name"

    by IB JOHN on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:35:50 AM PDT

    •  IB JOHN - how were Chaney's visits (0+ / 0-)

      any different from Hillary Clinton's visits when she was developing her healthcare plan early in the Clinton administration? The Bush/Chaney administration just dusted off the Clinton defense and used it to defend their position in court. They just changed the cover page. They both won. There was never anything illegal in either.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:46:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  maybe... (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe he's ashamed of himself because -- while he wants everyone to believe that he is some sort of extraordinary businessman fit to be given stewardship of the U.S. Treasury -- he actually lost a great deal of money.  Maybe prior to the Bush Depression he had ten billion or some such amount, all of it invested foolishly, and as a result of the Bush Depression he now has just $250 million.  A dismal market performance would hurt his narrative and his chances.  Maybe, also, he has not confessed to the little woman that he has blown a vast portion of his holdings, and he realizes that because she is such a vengeful shrew, she who would shriek about the disaster, diminishing him even further as a man, if she knew.  

  •  Gordon Gekko in the White House? (0+ / 0-)

    Greed is good. Right?

    http://www.youtube.com/...

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