Under new pressure to release his personal income tax returns, Mitt Romney on Tuesday acknowledged that he pays an effective tax rate of about 15 percent because so much of his fortune comes from investments he made in the past.Romney presents himself as some form of business and financial genius, so I have to assume he knows how to take the amount of tax he paid, divide it by his AGI, and come up with the actual figure. So why "about"? The most obvious inference is that his opponents have been throwing around the 15% figure, and Romney figures that lower amount he paid is "close enough" to 15% to justify adopting that figure. But it's also obvious that Romney is hiding something that he sees as potentially extremely damaging to his candidacy.
By Tuesday morning, Mr. Romney said that April's tax season seemed to be the appropriate month for such a disclosure, and that he was following "tradition" from previous presidential races.You see, it's not his fault he's obfuscating and waffling on the issue. It's the fault of people who ran in the past. It's the fault of Congress for making tax returns due in April. He simply has no power to act independently of all that "tradition".
"And I know that if I'm the nominee, people will want to see the most recent year, and see what happened in the most recent year and what things are up to date and so they'll want to see the tax returns that come out in April," Mr. Romney said. "So rather than sort of have multiple releases of tax returns, why, we'll wait until the tax returns for the most recent year are completed, then release them."The problem with multiple releases of tax returns being exactly what? That the people will have the information they want and be happy? The horror!
But wait - I think Romney gave away his game when he said "we'll wait until the tax returns for the most recent year are completed, then release them." It's not only that he wants to stall before releasing his returns, lest facts harm him in the upcoming primaries. It appears to be that he only plans to release his taxes for the 2011 tax year.
I think Romney wants to hide not only his actual tax rate, which as I previously indicated he should be able to calculate in seconds. I think his concern is that his tax return for 2010 exploits an extraordinary number of tax dodges and loopholes, such that although his tax rate is nonetheless "about 15 percent" he has avoided paying any taxes on millions of dollars such that the average person would see his tax rate is being substantially lower.
I can't help but wonder, if that's the case, after filing his 2011 taxes and releasing them to the public will Romney be filing an amended return to take advantage of the tax dodges, shelters and loopholes he doesn't want the public to know about?
Keep in mind, also, that if Romney becomes President this is exactly how he'll govern: Misrepresentation, obfuscation, delays, deception, excuses... except as President, it won't only be his money that he's playing with.