Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Should Mitt Romney reveal his tax return

No law requires Mitt Romney to reveal his tax return.

And in fact, over the last decades, a Democratic presidential candidate wannabe (Jerry Brown) refused to. However, 34 presidential and vice-presidential candidates did--80% of the total. All the other refuse-to-disclosers were Republicans BTW.

Ironically, since until last weekend Romney said he wouldn't reveal his tax return, one of the pioneers in revealing his tax returns was Romney's own father when he ran for President.

Romney said today he'd reveal his tax return for last year after he had the GOP nomination tied up. He didn't put it that way, but that's what it boils down to. So he trusts Republican primary voters less than all voters? Interesting.

Some Democrats speculated that revealing his tax return would get him in Dutch with fellow Mormons if he underpaid the 10% off the top that the LDS church expects of members in good standing. This is bogus. No one in his ward--or any other ward--knows whether he pays the full 10% except for his bishop, who would never share that info with other ward members, much less the public. The only way for anyone to tell whether Romney is tithing properly is that he shouldn't have a Temple Recommend if he doesn't. But I bet he does have a Recommend. I'd be astonished if he didn't. So this line of attack is probably a red herring.

He did reveal that he thinks he pays around 15% overall. Not too shabby for a quarter-billionaire. This is why I don't understand the call by some rich people for a flat tax. We already have close to it, not on the books, but in effect, given all the loopholes available to the very wealthy and the lack of funding for the IRS to go after rich tax avoiders. It's just the W2 crowd that the IRS holds to a far higher standard of probity than the very rich.

Now all this talk about wealth doesn't automatically mean that Romney doesn't understand the world the rest of us live in. After all, FDR had the common touch...and FDR revealed all his tax returns.

Both Romney and FDR were born wealthy and never knew a moment's worry about financial solvency in their lives.

But I doubt FDR would have ever said something like what Romney said yesterday, as he was talking about his income:
"I get speaker's fees from time to time but not very much. Ha-ha-ha-ha."

His speaker's fees last year totaled $374,327.62.

Good for him to make that much money for speaking. Bad for him to think $374K is chump change--and for not realizing how out of touch with 99% of his fellow Americans it shows him to be...

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