10 Questions Romney Should Answer About His Taxes

Written by Seth Hanlon

On Friday afternoon, the Romney campaign released the candidate’s 2011 tax return, which showed that he paid a tax rate of approximately 14 percent on more than $13 million of reported income. The campaign also disclosed that Romney voluntarily forfeited about $1.8 million in charitable deductions to inflate the tax rate he would have to disclose to the public. The campaign continues to refuse to release returns prior to 2010, flunking an accepted standard of transparency, first established by Mitt’s father George Romney, of releasing multiple years’ returns.

In a blog post, Romney’s lawyer and the trustee of his “blind trust” said, “After you have reviewed all of the newly-posted documents, you may have further questions.” Yes, we do. Lots.

Here are 10 unanswered questions about Romney’s taxes:

1. After the election, when the subject of your tax returns is outside of the public glare, will you file an amended tax return to claim your full deduction of charitable contributions? Was the tax rate you reported for other years similarly manipulated?

2. Why was your 2011 income $7 million lower than you estimated it to be in January? How does someone overestimate their income by $7 million?

3. Financial disclosures show that you have as much as $82 million in your tax-deferred Individual Retirement Account, despite the fact that tax rules limited contributions into such accounts to $30,000 per year. Did you lowball the value of the assets you put into your IRA, as tax experts suspect? And did you do the same with gifts into your sons’ trusts?

4. What was the purpose of your Swiss bank account and the myriad offshore entities shown on your return, based in countries like the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, if not to avoid taxes?

5. Can you explain what one tax expert has called a “mysterious one-time infusion of foreign tax credits” in 2008?

6. You have not disclosed any foreign bank account reports (FBARs). Did you file all FBARs on all of your offshore accounts with the Treasury Department by the legal deadlines each year?

7. You claim to have paid an average tax rate of 20 percent over the last 20 years based on a flawed calculation. What was your real tax rate?

8. Your 14 percent tax rate –- not to mention the approximately 10 percent tax rate you would have paid had you not inflated it — is less than what many middle-class Americans pay. And you paid just 0.2% of your income in payroll taxes, while most Americans pay about 15%. Do you think that is fair?

9. Your tax returns show that the Marriott Corporation paid you $260,390 in directors’ fees in 2011. When you were the company’s audit committee chair in the 1990s, were you aware that the company was abusing a notorious illegal tax shelter?

10. You say you’ve made a “commitment to the public” that your tax rate should not be below 13 percent. If you believe that the richest Americans shouldn’t be paying an exceptionally low tax rate, why don’t you support President Obama’s “Buffett Rule”?

Romney’s lack of transparency on his tax returns is especially troubling given that he is similarly evasive on the details of his tax policies. From what we know about his tax plan, Romney would shower massive tax breaks on the wealthiest Americans, which means that it can only adds up with a major middle-class tax hike. How much will Romney raise your taxes in order to cut taxes for people like him? That’s the biggest unanswered question of all.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


Photo: cletch/flickr


Maurice Simoens
Maurice Simoens5 years ago

i live europe and i hope all americans vote obama,he is the only honest guy here,the jerk romney hide the treu of a lot of things,we have to trust obama,in his second term he will do a lot of good things,vote obama 2012,a amarican in europe

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

Oh sad little Bill R. is back with more pathetic lies and weak arguments. Go get some better talking points Billy.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese5 years ago

Nice comments John, however the standard Obama troll will try to throw cold water on anything anti Obama. Sort of like Obama lying about Libya in the debate last night, everyone listening knew he was lying and the monderator tried to cover the lie by it was so obvious, she did not do a very good job of cover up.

It is like all the Obama trolls on here want to read Mitts tax returns, when in fact Obama has access to them through the IRS and we can all assume with some certainity, that the IRS will audit those returns with a fine tooth comb.

John O.
John O5 years ago

If his taxes are the only thing he is hiding , that beats Obama, who hides every thing and want give a straight answer about his life are any thing we would like to know the truth about. ( That should wind up you Obama tolls.)

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

Thanks for this article. I think you should send these ten questions in to the Presidential debates.

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

Wild Bill Hitler. You are getting more insane by the day. Whats the name of that Boy Scout Troop you work with Bill? I think the parents of those kids should be able to read the insane stuff you are saying.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese5 years ago

Presidents can affect gas prices, in the past almost four years we have almost eliminated drilling on Federal Lands and in the Gulf of Mexico while Obama has given millions to Venzuala to drill off shore for oil. The Key Stone pipe line is held up by guess who Obama. Clinton, Bush and now Obama has not allowed a new refinery to be built, they are all idiots in that regard.
Obama is trying to kill the Coal industry, and his Green Program has cost the taxpayers billions in bankruptcies. What do we mean Presidents cannot affect gas prices? Of course he can. As to using the "gas reserves" they would not last 3 months if we opened them clear up and it was foolish when it was tried in the past.

Taxes are open to the President through his IRS agents, what is the big problem, we do not trust our President to check on Mr. Romney's taxes? Romney should just tell the public I will open my tax returns other than to the President and the IRS when Mr. President opens his college records, and explains his muliple Social Security numbers and so forth.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and realized that I have a high respect for our military service members, and their families. I pray that none of those families that lost loved ones in Europe will ever read some of your egotisical post toward there service to our country.

Lee Witton
5 years ago

Bill R - you are the only one who is trying to tie gas prices to the President. Paralleling prices while Bush was in office has only been in response to your trying to tie the high prices to Obama, which anyone with a brain knows he has no control over the gas prices, unless he were to open up gas reserves, and if that happens before the election, the Republicans who have been blaming him for prices at the pump, will then blame him for opening reserves only as a political maneuver. It's hysterical to see how the GOP has become apoplectic now over the unemployment rate dropping to below 8%.
This article is not about Obama's taxes and he's been open (12 years worth as a matter of fact), but Romney has not, which is why the rest of the bloggers are posting in these threads. What is your reason?

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

Wild Bill Hitler strieks again As to why the public needs to know about Romney's tax returns does not make sense.

It is really offensive Mr Bill that you think all of us are dumb enough to fall for your BS.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese5 years ago

Again, the IRS is Obama's IRS and they can audit anyone on any year's tax return. The time limit that the IRS could go back was 7 years on any tax audit, I am not sure if that is still true. So if anything funny showed up, I am sure that mr. Obama would have sent his attack dogs after it immediately.

Though Tax Returns are not public record they are still open to audit as they always have been.

As to why the public needs to know about Romney's tax returns does not make sense. It would appear to be a diversion from Unemployment numbers, deficit numbers, fast and furious questions, illegal alien challenges and so forth. Gee, did I forget to mention the gas price in L.A. just reach $5.75 per gallon? If the gas price spike from Katrina is blamed on President Bush, then this price should be Obama's? What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander.