Just a Common Man

If the Republicans were able to frenchify Kerry simply because his wife was loaded, the Democrats should be able to have all sorts of fun with this clown:

Under new pressure to release his 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 past investments.

“It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything,” Mr. Romney said. “Because my last 10 years, I’ve — my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income, or rather than earned annual income.”

The vast majority of the income Mr. Romney reported over 12 months in 2010 and ‘11 was dividends from investments, capital gains on mutual funds and his post-retirement share of profits and investment returns from Bain Capital, the firm he once led. And Mr. Romney also noted that he made hundreds of thousands of dollars from speaking engagements.

“I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away,” Mr. Romney told reporters after an event here. “And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.”

Financial disclosure forms that candidates are required to file annually shows that Mr. Romney earned $374,327.62 in speakers’ fees from February of 2010 to February of 2011, at an average of $41,592 per speech. President Obama paid an effective federal tax rate of just over 26 percent on his 2010 returns, the most recent available.

At the White House Tuesday, the president’s spokesman said Mr. Romney’s acknowledgement that he pays 15 percent reveals a basic unfairness in the tax code that Mr. Obama is concerned about.

“This only illuminates what he believes is an issue, which is that everybody who’s working hard ought to pay their fair share,” said the spokesman, Jay Carney. “That includes millionaires who might be paying an effective tax rate of 15 percent when folks making $50,000 or $75,000 or $100,000 a year are paying much more.”

The thing that kills me about Mittens is how little common sense he has. If he’d just released the damn tax statements, he’d get killed in the press for a few days, but they’d move on to something else. Someone would say Michelle has a fat ass or that Obama hangs out with terrorists and they’d be off in a new direction. Instead, he’s just dribbling this stuff out there, and the sharks smell blood and want more. And trying to downplay it with the old “oh those millions I’m making the past few years is just the shit I have left over from when I was working,” yeah, that’s some smart thinking and is going to resonate at the VFW. Especially after he told everyone he was “unemployed.”






180 replies
  1. 1
    Ugh says:

    the Democrats should be able to have all sorts of fun with this clown:

    Which Democrats are these then?

  2. 2
    Soylent Green says:

    Soylent green is corporations.

  3. 3
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    He raises tone deaf to a new level.

  4. 4
    dmsilev says:

    I’m becoming convinced that there’s something absolutely poisonous in his 2010 return, and he (a) instructed his accountants to manage his 2011 finances in a more electorally-friendly fashion and (b) is desperately trying to stall any release of tax info until after the 2011 return is in and that’s the one he’ll eventually release.

  5. 5
    KG says:

    Instead, he’s just dribbling this stuff out there, and the sharks smell blood and want more

    Don’t any of these jackasses get it… it not the act that gets you in trouble, it’s the cover up. It’s always the cover up

  6. 6
    jl says:

    I wonder whether Mitt will instruct his accounting flunkies to cook his tax returns to increase his rate this year.

    He certainly has time. And from a clip of him I heard on the radio this morning, he seems to be trying to game the traditional release so he can get away with only releasing this year’s return.

    Though the taxes on his sort of non lesser person type of income are so low, not sure how much they can be increased without raising obvious questions about how they were done and what was done in prior years.

  7. 7
    dmsilev says:

    Also, too, this is killer:

    “And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.” Financial disclosure forms that candidates are required to file annually shows that Mr. Romney earned $374,327.62 in speakers’ fees from February of 2010 to February of 2011, at an average of $41,592 per speech.

    To Mittens, $375K is “not very much”. Now, to someone earning investment returns on a quarter of a billion dollars of assets, that’s probably true, but that “not very much” would on its own be enough to put him in the top 1% of Americans.

  8. 8
    flounder says:

    I hope dems use this lesson to point out what b.s. the reasoning for the 15% rate on investment income is. I don’t think “so rich dudes can travel around and run for president” rings as a particularly noble reallocation of capital.

  9. 9
    General Stuck says:

    A Golden Parachute won’t save you, when the DZ is littered with hungry peasants and their pitchforks too.

  10. 10
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    As I said downstairs I am sure that 99% of the population doesn’t think that $370K “isn’t alot of money”. What an over privileged asshole he is.

  11. 11
    trollhattan says:

    When are we going to start hearing Mittens was a POW during his mission time in France? Even the cranky, nuts version of McCain radiates warmth compared to this waste of human flesh.

  12. 12
    Warren Terra says:

    1) The way I like to explain it is that Mitt is paying half what most people do in taxes. Most peoples’ income is taxed at 15% on every dollar (payroll tax, including the employer’s portion), plus the part they file by April 15, the progressive income tax with credits and deductions – often, an additional 15%. Mitt is paying a maximum of 15 percent, the capital gains rate, and not paying payroll tax. And Mitt is only paying even 15% if nothing has been done to cleverly structure or otherwise shield his income from taxation. He’s probably paying less, possibly much less.

    2) Mitt has signaled that he will in fact never release his true tax returns. After his extensive weaseling last night (pretending he’ just noticed that some people were curious about his taxes, and saying he might release them in April), today he clearly indicated that if he does release his tax returns it will only be the most recent year’s returns, 2011, the ones due April 17, 2012. Other candidates have released their returns going back a decade or so; not so Mitt, for reasons hinted at in dmsilev’s comment. If Mitt gets away with this, he can arrange to pay the highest possible rate on his 2011 income, foregoing all clever schemes and the like, in order to hide the fact that he’s spent the last several decades paying a tiny proportion of his income.

  13. 13
    Ugh says:

    I would guess that Romney claimed no or very little charitable deductions on his 2010 return, so he’s trying to fix that.

  14. 14
    The Moar You Know says:

    Pinky-finger tea sipping elitist who is literally the guy who laid you off, versus blackity black soshulist Kenyan jihadi.

    I predict almost identical percentage numbers to 2008, total voters will be down about 5%.

  15. 15
    leo from Chicago says:

    If David Axelrod is reading this: Hold off on the ‘frenchify’ bit till he’s officially their candidate — then let him have it.

  16. 16
    AliceBlue says:

    @dmsilev:
    Of course he is. After all, he’s running for President, for Pete’s sake!

  17. 17
    jibeaux says:

    I agree that he’s stalling the release of the tax info until after the 2011 return, he says he plans to do it about April. I don’t think he’s going to get away with releasing only one year’s worth, frankly. To my mind, this timing:
    1. Makes the release of the presumably damaging information 3 months closer to the election.
    2. Allows others, should they choose to embrace it, discuss and speculate as to why he would not want to release them now.

    I don’t really see the upside to this for him.

  18. 18
    dmsilev says:

    @Ugh: Wonder whether he’s current on his tithes to his church?

  19. 19
    Stooleo says:

    $375K…you know couch change. This guy makes Poppy Bush look like a character from an Horatio Alger novel.

  20. 20
    Rommie says:

    Mittens should just go full McMahon and start using “No Chance in Hell” as entrance music.

  21. 21
    beltane says:

    Freedom isn’t free-except in the case of Freeloading Mitt Romney.

  22. 22
    Warren Terra says:

    @jl:

    Though the taxes on his sort of non lesser person type of income are so low, not sure how much they can be increased without raising obvious questions about how they were done and what was done in prior years.

    There’s a pretty good chance that his 2011 returns will be cooked so he pays 15% (or a bit more), and doesn’t take advantage of any clever schemes to pay less. As you say, if his income is capital gains he probably can’t find a way to be taxed more than 15% on it (though he could have the common decency to denounce this state of affairs) – but it’s extremely likely that in past years he’s managed to avoid taxes on much of his income even at this low rate, to a potentially embarrassing degree.

  23. 23
    Steve says:

    I agree that he is stupid to walk into the “drip, drip, drip” line of attacks. It’s like he thinks if he admits to the tax rate now, he can call that specific issue “old news” when the returns eventually get released and nobody will be able to talk about it. Except it doesn’t really work that way. This way his tax returns are in the news right now and they’ll be in the news again when he releases them. And there is no way he will be able to get away with releasing only last year’s return.

  24. 24
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @Warren Terra: I would also guess that some of his money is stashed in overseas accounts. I would also guess that if he has charitable donations they have gone to some “unsavory” organizations (like planned parenthood for instance). Pure speculation on my part of course.

  25. 25
    smintheus says:

    @dmsilev: Was about to quote the same passage. This statement all by itself ought to be enough to portray Romney as out of touch.

  26. 26
    The Moar You Know says:

    Add me to the chorus that is utterly convinced the only tax return you’ll see from Willard is the one from the current year.

    I suspect there’s more on the line surrounding such a release than just his presidential aspirations.

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    @jibeaux: And furthermore, the whole thing plays into a killer theme about Romney, that he’s just looking out for himself and you can’t trust him on anything. The question that needs to be asked to him is “what are you hiding?”. Because anyone who saw the video from last night of him dodging like mad about his taxes *knows* that he’s hiding *something*.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    I see some commmenters beat me to the punch on Romney’s sleaziness.

    I do not know how anyone can believe a word Romney says. My rather primitive mental lie-dar meter becomes saturated and tops out whenever I hear Romney say anything.

    Only other person I can remember who also did that was Rumsfeld.

    I guess the people who believe a word Romney says are the same kind of people who bellieved a word Rumsfeld said.

  29. 29
    dmsilev says:

    @jl:

    My rather primitive mental lie-dar meter becomes saturated and tops out whenever I hear Romney say anything.

    Fox actually had a lie-dar of sorts running during the debate yesterday. Watchers could direct Tweets to various destinations if they thought a given candidate was answering or dodging a question. During one of the commercial breaks towards the end, they summarized the results. Romney was net-negative almost the entire night, and when he was talking about his tax returns, essentially the entirety of Twitter-dom was convinced that he was trying to weasel out of answering.

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    If the Republicans were able to frenchify Kerry simply because his wife was loaded, the Democrats should be able to have all sorts of fun with this clown

    I can’t really see that Obama would make a big deal of this. And the average joe doesn’t care much about this. The Repubs just piled on because it was an easy stick to use against Kerry. It never made any real sense.

    @jl:

    I wonder whether Mitt will instruct his accounting flunkies to cook his tax returns to increase his rate this year.

    Not as easy to do as you think.

    @Warren Terra:

    The way I like to explain it is that Mitt is paying half what most people do in taxes. Most peoples’ income is taxed at 15% on every dollar (payroll tax, including the employer’s portion), plus the part they file by April 15, the progressive income tax with credits and deductions – often, an additional 15%.

    This is mostly wrong in every respect. There ain’t no such thing as “plus the part they file by April 15.” Individual wage earners are not taxed on the employer’s portion of FICA.

    There are ordinary income tax rates lower than 15% and higher than 15%. But capital gains, which may be the bulk of Mitt’s income, do get preferential treatment.

    There is no universe in which Mitt can magically turn capital gain income into ordinary income. It would be interesting, though, to see Mitt file a fraudulent tax return just do win the GOP nomination.

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    @trollhattan:

    I have to agree. I didn’t think anyone could ever top McCain in cluelessness and tone deafness. But this is one battle that Mittens would win, hands down.

  32. 32
    JITC says:

    Just point out that the 9-year-olds Gingrich wants to hire instead of adults will pay a hire tax rate than Mitt Romney. And the problem GOPers see with that is that Romney’s taxes are too high.

  33. 33
    jibeaux says:

    @dmsilev: If he tries to only release one year’s worth, then round two of “what are you hiding?” If that year’s worth is 15%, then the Buffett rule discussion. If he manages to get it significantly higher than 15% for the reasons people have suggested here, then why did he say in January that he pays about 15% for the past 10 years? What changed in 2011 to make his tax rates go up?

  34. 34
    jibeaux says:

    Also too, I think the Dems should request the LONG FORM tax returns. The ones with the offshore accounts in them.

  35. 35
    Ugh says:

    @dmsilev:

    Or maybe that’s it, his largest single charitable donation is to LDS and it’s going to destroy him with “the Christian base.”

  36. 36
    jl says:

    @dmsilev: And the way he weasels to my mind, has all the sleazy and smelly oil of the filthy rich boss, bordering on mafioso, who tries to rationalize what he has decided to do to a worker, in alternatively (special) pleading and threatening ways. Transparent BS.

    Romney is a total sleaze.

    In 2000 I thought Bush II was the worse the GOP could foist in the country who had a chance of success, sadly I was wrong. This year, the whole field was worse.

    @Brachiator: well, that was my point, I do not see how it would be easy to do, I don’t think it could be done without raising a lot of questions. But, any incremental increase would be worth it, to show Mitt is a ‘good guy’ who wants to pay his fair share, and escape his ‘only talk about it in the back rooms’ position on income inequality and fairness.

  37. 37
    Maus says:

    If the Republicans were able to frenchify Kerry simply because his wife was loaded, the Democrats should be able to have all sorts of fun with this clown:

    But why would we? Republicans don’t care about rich people, unless they’re Democrats.

  38. 38
    ChrisNYC says:

    It is hugely stupid. I feel like he’s so setting up a narrative where his campaign’s fumbling around (on the jobs claim, on the returns, on the basis for his candidacy) is going to turn into “Is this the way he would run the country?” Fair question!

  39. 39
    beltane says:

    @Stooleo: Poppy Bush exuded an air of old-school, old-money WASP sobriety. Mitt Romney definitely gives off a sleazy, corporate raider hookers and blow vibe-except without the hookers and blow. Trash with cash.

    Has this clown ever done an honest days work in his entire life?

  40. 40
    rlrr says:

    @Ugh:

    Or he’s not giving the required 10% to the LDS…

  41. 41
    JPL says:

    I haven’t read the comment so sorry if this has been mentioned but TPM has the must see video where he laughs after saying he earned a little on speeches.

  42. 42
    dmsilev says:

    Heh. Markos found another episode of Mitt Romney, Man of the People:

    “You guys are great to get up at – what time is it here, 9 o’clock in the morning in Florence?” Romney said. “Gosh, this is a work day, right?”

    And remember folks, of all the GOP field, he’s the *competent* one.

  43. 43

    Must be nice to be unemployed like Mitt.

  44. 44
    Mike in NC says:

    We need to work very hard over the next several months to KEEP this vapid mofo “unemployed”.

  45. 45
    jl says:

    @Ugh: Good point. A good Mormon tithes 10 percent, I think, but not sure.

  46. 46
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Someone should start talking about Mitt’s “April Surprise”

  47. 47
    Yutsano says:

    @Brachiator:

    It would be interesting, though, to see Mitt file a fraudulent tax return just do win the GOP nomination.

    Dude. Don’t tease me. I’d LOVE to see Willard explain a frivolous filing penalty. Plus that’s a $5000 fine to boot.

  48. 48
    Warren Terra says:

    @Brachiator:

    This is mostly wrong in every respect. There ain’t no such thing as “plus the part they file by April 15.” Individual wage earners are not taxed on the employer’s portion of FICA.

    I think we’re talking at cross-purposes.

    You pay something like 8% payroll tax on your income, which is matched by your employer. This means that of the money set aside for your compensation, something like 15% is going to payroll taxes. The portion of the payroll tax paid by the employer is effectively being taken out of the employee’s potential wages, so it’s perfectly fair to count it.
    You also pay income taxes, separately. These are levied on your income (not including the extra 8% your employer had to pay in payroll taxes – but, I think, including the 8% you paid in payroll taxes). They are progressive and there are a bunch of deductions and credits that can apply. Rates start at 10% and climb to 35%; a middle-class family might expect to pay something like 15% overall.
    Add the money paid in payroll taxes and the money paid in income taxes, and a middle-class family might well be paying 30% in federal taxes on their wages. This is at least twice what Mitt pays.

  49. 49
    Judas Escargot says:

    @beltane:

    Mitt Romney definitely gives off a sleazy, corporate raider hookers and blow vibe-except without the hookers and blow.

    I’ve been wondering if part of the ‘creepy’ vibe he gives off is due to this. Most of the MOTU are quite open in how they exploit the rest of us to accumulate wealth and power, which, being human, they then use to feed their appetites. We’re all human, so (in the abstract at least) we can understand those loathesome creatures on some level, even as we fight them.

    Romney, on the other hand? From out here, he appears to have no human appetites, whatsoever. And not much in the way of a creative work ethic. So why is he so eager to rule?

    “RomneyBot” indeed.

  50. 50
    Nylund says:

    Wow…describing $375,000.00 of income as “not very much.”

    I’d wager that if someone suggested that his taxes go up by $375k it’d suddenly cease to be “not very much” and turn into quite a bit…

  51. 51

    @Yutsano: Plus that’s a $5000 fine to boot.

    So, not very much.

  52. 52
    ChrisNYC says:

    It would be great if the media started to frame this and some of the other crap during this campaign as “look at all the money these slimeballs earn for doing basically nothing or for actually screwing up our political system while they pound the podium about tiny increases to min wage and extending UI benes.” So much grist — Gingrich with Freddie and Fannie, Santorum and his lobbying, Romney and the speeches, Cain and Fox/book sales. They won’t of course because a lot of the media also eat at the “cash for nothing” trough.

  53. 53
    pragmatism says:

    its easy to french-fry kerry because he married into the ketchup empire.

  54. 54
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    It is hugely stupid. I feel like he’s so setting up a narrative where his campaign’s fumbling around (on the jobs claim, on the returns, on the basis for his candidacy) is going to turn into “Is this the way he would run the country?” Fair question!

    I don’t see it, simply because he’s got that R next to his name. More likely we’ll get Mark Halperin speculating, because it would be irresponsible not to, that the jumbled mind of the oligarch is the repository of the salvation of American Greatness, and that it’s the Kenyan Usurper’s clear-headedness that has damned us all to suffer for eternity in communist hellfire.

  55. 55
    Reflectionephemeral says:

    @smintheus: I literally have “Out of Touch” by Hall & Oates stuck in my head after reading that.

    $374K, at $40K+ per speech, is “not very much.”

  56. 56
    taylormattd says:

    John, the premise of your argument is utterly flawed. You see, Kerry was an effite democrat, whereas Mitt is a republican. Any reporting about Mitt’s alleged elitism will pale in comparison to what was done to Kerry.

  57. 57
    Yutsano says:

    @Cris (without and H): Oh it gets better. It’s a $5K fine FOR EVERY DOCUMENT SUBMITTED. Considering the complexity of Willard’s return, it could add up pretty fast.

  58. 58
    IM says:

    @Ugh:

    So? I don’t think it will even hurt him in South Carolina. And if the asylum is happy…

  59. 59
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    You mean a man who makes $10,000 bets like it’s the spare change in his pockets considers $374k the equivalent of selling shit on eBay on weekends? No fucking way.

    The most effective thing the 0.1%ers have done is to convince people with median incomes that it’s not a different fucking plane of existence, where you pull down an individual’s annual income for one fucking speech.

    It’s as if they systematically wiped out knowledge of logarithmic scales.

  60. 60
    Mitt the Ripper says:

    I can’t wait to gut the capital gains tax

  61. 61
    ET says:

    but, but, but…. I am unemployed and know exactly how all those unemployed feel!!!!

    Like others have said, that R after his name that designates party affiliation will be like magical fairy dust that fixes the “problem” – or at least makes everyone forget he is an uber-rich guy with NO FUCKING CLUE how the other “half” (and by half I mean 99%) lives.

  62. 62
    dmsilev says:

    @Nylund: Someone should put together a website asking people what “not very much” money would mean for them.

    For me, that would completely pay off my mortgage plus give me several years worth of living expenses.

    For someone with kids, that’s enough to send two kids to Ivy League schools.

    For many many people, that’s the retirement fund that they never thought they’d have.

  63. 63
    Ugh says:

    @IM:

    Could be, I’m just speculating, though I can see his advisers counseling “you gave $X million to LDS in 2010 and almost nothing to anyone else, if this gets out it will kill you among the evangelical base in the primary, so whatever you do, don’t release your returns during that time!”

  64. 64
    MikeBoyScout says:

    There’s gold in them thar hills. Keep digging.

  65. 65
    JC says:

    Listen, the guy is a wooden, bright, lying, one percenter. He’s a vulture capitalist, who’s job is to screw people and companies over for his investors.

    and it’s all right there – the guy lies like a rug, keeps lying like a rug, and our press corps, simply can’t/won’t keep up, for the reasons listed here, many times before.

    But – WE – have a duty to spread forth every lie he tells.

  66. 66
    burnspbesq says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    I would also guess that some of his money is stashed in overseas accounts.

    I’m not sure why you would guess that, but it would certainly be entertaining if some reporter were to ask Romney if he is current on his FBAR filings, and whether he participated in the Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Initiative.

  67. 67
    cmorenc says:

    @Ugh:

    I would guess that Romney claimed no or very little charitable deductions on his 2010 return, so he’s trying to fix that.

    Actually, more likely than not, this is NOT the problem with his returns that Romney may be worried about revealing. Mormons have many faults, but in general, lack of generous giving to their church isn’t one of them (which does qualify as a charitable deduction, regardless of whether this is a “charity” some non-Mormons approve of or not).

    I suspect others have nailed the most likely problem, that Romney paid little to no tax at all on a fairly high gross income in several prior years, including some very recent ones.

  68. 68
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ugh:

    Charitable contributions are lose-lose for Romney. It’s just as likely that an examination of his returns would reveal that he hasn’t been tithing to the LDS church, which would make him bishop non grata in a great big hurry.

  69. 69

    How low an average, effective rate of income tax can Romney be caught paying, and still be white? I’m guessing 0% — and that’s all that matters.

  70. 70
    gaz says:

    If Romney had Newt’s diabolical dog-whistling capabilities he’d say he’s worth only half as much as Jay Z.

    Oh and that, through hard work.

    It’d bring his numbers up with the 27%’ers

  71. 71
    ET says:

    I saw bouncy dog and I felt better.

  72. 72
    jl says:

    Did Mitt think this “release the tax returns” thing through at take resolute corporate raider titan type action before December 31, 2011? Inquiring minds want to know.

    On other hand, Mitt might be trying to play our idiot media. Make enough fuss about how big a deal it is to release one year’s returns, maybe they will decide asking about those from earlier years is picking on Mitt, or some such nonsense.

    On other hand, the press does not seem to be warming up to Mitt at all, except for the paid opinion hacks.

  73. 73
    Roc says:

    He’s delaying because he knows the Democrats are still playing Gentleman’s politics. So he’ll wait to release just 2011’s return and though ‘no-one’ will be satisfied with that transparent ruse, the Democrats won’t take him to task over it. They’ll toast his cleverness and go back to pitching nuanced technical arguments about tax rates in general.

    Hell, they probably won’t even shake the Bain tree nearly as much as the other candidates already have.

  74. 74
    WaynersT says:

    Rpmney has some kind of undiagnosed Aspergers. It would explain alot about his personality and total lack of empathy. Either that or he’s a sociopath.
    Seriously, who straps a dog to a car roof for 12 hours.

  75. 75
    Steve says:

    I find it very hard to believe there is anything damning in Mitt’s returns that he wants to cover up, aside from the general fact that he is filthy rich. It’s not like he had no idea 2 or 3 years ago that he would be running for President.

  76. 76

    @Brachiator:

    There is no universe in which Mitt can magically turn capital gain income into ordinary income.

    Sure there is. Just don’t use the Qualified Dividends and Capital Gains worksheet to reduce the tax owed on your long-term capital gains. Nothing says that you have to do this if you don’t want. The IRS sure as hell isn’t going to complain about it.

    The game Mitt would be playing would be transparently obvious to anyone familiar with the tax code. However, it *would* produce a higher headline figure for his tax rate. Given my suspicion as to just how aware most Americans are of the way the income tax actually works, the headline number is really all that would matter.

    Fortunately, I suspect that Mitt is too politically tone deaf and too wedded to the idea that he is *owed* that lower tax rate to do this, particularly given that he’s already announced that he pays about 15%.

  77. 77
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Ugh:

    I would guess that Romney claimed no or very little charitable deductions on his 2010 return, so he’s trying to fix that.

    I doubt that. He tithes 10% to the Mormon Church.

  78. 78
    gaz says:

    @J. Michael Neal: True that. He’s probably *proud* of it.

  79. 79
    dmsilev says:

    @Steve: Then why all the evasiveness? He had to know that he’d be facing calls to release at least some of his returns; that’s been a tradition dating back to at least the Kennedy/Nixon race. Why not release his 2010 returns back in October when nobody was paying attention, and 2011 on July 3rd or something?

  80. 80
    burnspbesq says:

    @ET:

    Dog has serious hops. The Blake Griffin of dog-dom.

  81. 81
    jl says:

    “he’s already announced that he pays about 15%.”

    He will be this year. I will make a bet with any skeptical BJ commenter. I will email any taker a fine craft beer of their choice. Or soda pop.

  82. 82
    burnspbesq says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    Not quite so easy for Mitt. To the extent that his capital gain income is a distributive share of Bain Capital’s capital gain income, it will be broken out on a K-1. Makes it pretty easy to play Find the Scam. And then he’s going to be in big trouble with the Galtian wing of the Republican party for paying more tax than he had to.

  83. 83
    Mike Goetz says:

    And yet, Romney will do the full Navin Johnson in his electoral ads, with no remorse.

  84. 84
    pragmatism says:

    @WaynersT: or he is an actual ass burger.

  85. 85
    trollhattan says:

    @burnspbesq:

    He’s having a fine old time! Here’s his snowy cousin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sUL0KCIc48

  86. 86
    EconWatcher says:

    This whole thread is unseemly. Romney’s wealth and taxes should only be discussed in quiet rooms.

  87. 87

    @WaynersT: As someone with diagnosed Asperger’s, I doubt it. A lot of the rest of his personality doesn’t feel right as an Aspie for me. More likely, I just think he’s a callous, out-of-touch jackass who doesn’t have any way to understand what it’s like for people without his wealth.

    I’m not at all certain that he lacks empathy; he may display plenty of it to the people he actually knows. In terms of diagnosing Asperger’s, that would be a much more important question to answer than whether he understands people in completely different situations than his own.

    Sincerely,

    Pedantic Aspie

  88. 88
    JC says:

    @WaynersT: Actually, this is probably true. What you would call a ‘soft’ form of that syndrome. Highly functional, and runs his emotional cues on ‘mental shoulds’, rather than being present emotionally.

    Nothing against that, he probably is born this way, just cuts against being President. Rick Scott I think has a form of Asperger’s that is more pronounced.

    Still, it sticks in the craw – these lying liars. These CEO and vulture capitalism types, try to turn the sacking of the United States into a moral crusade of righteousness?

    Just insane.

  89. 89
    Brachiator says:

    @jl:

    well, that was my point, I do not see how it would be easy to do, I don’t think it could be done without raising a lot of questions.

    It can’t be done without filing a false return. That’s more than a lot of questions.

    But, any incremental increase would be worth it,

    At Mitt’s level, and with the type of income that he probably has, you can’t really do anything like an “incremental increase.”

    Quick and dirty. Let’s say you have $750,000 in wages, no deductions. The tax is $225,722.

    If you had $750,000 in capital gain income. The tax is $102,150. You can’t fudge the difference easily to get some “incremental increase.”

    @Yutsano: Dude.

    Don’t tease me. I’d LOVE to see Willard explain a frivolous filing penalty. Plus that’s a $5000 fine to boot.

    Even more if Mitt fudged the fabulous Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets.

    @Warren Terra:

    I think we’re talking at cross-purposes.

    No. You’re guessing and mixing things up and just confusing the issue. But whether than wallow in details, the bottom line is that Mitt is probably paying at a lower rate simply because the bulk of his income is from capital gains.

    It will be fun, though, if he releases any of his returns.

  90. 90
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Yep, Mittens is so rich that he can tell his team of loyal tax preparers exactly how much he’s going to pay the feds for 2011, and they’ll jigger the numbers accordingly.

    Let’s see how assiduous he was for the years when he was only part-time running for president.

    He tithes 10% to the Mormon Church.

    10% of what, though? If he’s tithing 10% of just his spare-time $40k-a-shot active income, it’s different from tithing 10% of whatever his megabucks portfolio earns. What’s the LDS guidance on the baseline for calculating one’s tithe?

  91. 91

    @burnspbesq: As I said, what he would be doing would be transparently obvious to anyone who has taken a class in tax accounting. I just think that the proportion of the population with that level of understanding is too small for it to matter. I certainly don’t expect the Villagers, most of whom probably have no idea what a K-1 is, to dig into it that much. They’ll report the overall rate he paid on the returns they’ve seen and stop there.

  92. 92
    Brachiator says:

    @Yutsano:

    Dude. Don’t tease me. I’d LOVE to see Willard explain a frivolous filing penalty. Plus that’s a $5000 fine to boot.

    Even more if Mitt messes with the fabulous Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets.

    @Warren Terra:

    I think we’re talking at cross-purposes.

    No. You’re guessing and mixing things up and just confusing the issue. But whether than wallow in details, the bottom line is that Mitt is probably paying at a lower rate simply because the bulk of his income is from capital gains.

    Don’t quite know why an earlier version of this got moderated. Let’s hope this makes the cut.

  93. 93

    @JC: More likely, trying to diagnose Asperger’s from this distance is a bad idea.

  94. 94
    Mike G says:

    If the Republicans were able to frenchify Kerry simply because his wife was loaded

    Teresa Heinz Kerry was born and raised in Mozambique by Portuguese parents, and went to college in South Africa and Switzerland before moving to the United States.

    So to the Party of Idiots, of course she is “French”.

  95. 95
    The Moar You Know says:

    10% of what, though?

    @pseudonymous in nc: I think you’re getting close to the monster in the basement. If ol’ Willard’s been given a special dispensation to not give a full 10%, and that comes to light, it will destroy the Mormon church.

  96. 96
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Brachiator:

    whether than wallow in details, the bottom line is that Mitt is probably paying at a lower rate simply because the bulk of his income is from capital gains.

    I think there’s going to be a certain amount of difficulty for the press to explain the way one lives off the proceeds of a huge investment portfolio. Maybe call it a glorified trust fund, or a never-ending 401(k).

    Like I said, different plane of reality.

  97. 97
    Tonal Crow says:

    @WaynersT:

    Seriously, who straps a dog to a car roof for 12 hours.

    On that dog, Romney both shows robotlike indifference to suffering and lies about the incident. He says that the carrier was “completely airtight”. Really? You put a dog in an “airtight” carrier for a 12-hour trip? Can we try this with you, Mittens? But the carrier wasn’t really airtight, since the dog’s excreta ran down the car’s rear window.

    Nice twofer, Mr. Robotney. Also too, I want to see your long-form vault-copy birth certificate, because I’m not convinced that you were ever born.

  98. 98
    catpal says:

    @dmsilev: this. “$375K is “not very much”. and the “you know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare.”

    I think most people do not begrudge success, but most people do not want these crappy statements rubbed into their faces, and Really don’t want a Multi-Millionaire calling them out for their Envy.

  99. 99
    Brachiator says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    As I said, what he would be doing would be transparently obvious to anyone who has taken a class in tax accounting. I just think that the proportion of the population with that level of understanding is too small for it to matter. I certainly don’t expect the Villagers, most of whom probably have no idea what a K-1 is, to dig into it that much. They’ll report the overall rate he paid on the returns they’ve seen and stop there.

    You can’t fake a return without risking serious IRS penalties. Even if you overstate income. And his return will be posted on the InterTubes. Any attempt at fixing things would be exposed in about seven nanoseconds.

    Mitt would also instantly become a laughing stock. I recall his tired explanation about how he really didn’t hire an illegal immigrant to do yard work. Explaining how his tax guy mis-reported income would be priceless.

    Also, if he is receiving K-1s, he may have absolutely no control over who is filing the business returns.

    The speculation here is fun, but highly improbable.

  100. 100
    Steve says:

    @dmsilev: Why all the evasiveness? In case you haven’t noticed, evasiveness is Romney’s instinctive response to every single question. I see no reason to think that this particular bout of evasiveness implies something explosive in his tax returns, although the speculation in this thread has been kind of funny. “If he hasn’t been tithing the revelation will destroy the Mormon Church!”

  101. 101
    dmsilev says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Also too, I want to see his long-form vault-copy birth certificate, because I’m not convinced that he was ever born.

    I’m pretty sure the Tyrell Corporation can produce the necessary documentation from their archives.

  102. 102
    Kyle says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    If ol’ Willard’s been given a special dispensation to not give a full 10%, and that comes to light, it will destroy the Mormon church.

    To quoth Drunk Peggy, is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.

    By MSM rules, “now that the question is out there” it must be publicized as widely as possible and asked over and over again, until Willard provides definite proof or disproof.

  103. 103
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    From the horse’s mouth:

    On March 19, 1970, the First Presidency sent the following letter to presidents of stakes and missions, bishops of wards, and presidents of branches in answer to the question, “What is a proper tithe?”

    “For your guidance in this matter, please be advised that we have uniformly replied that the simplest statement we know of is that statement of the Lord himself that the members of the Church should pay one-tenth of all their interest annually, which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this. We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly.”

  104. 104

    @dmsilev:

    I’m becoming convinced that there’s something absolutely poisonous in his 2010 return, and he (a) instructed his accountants to manage his 2011 finances in a more electorally-friendly fashion and (b) is desperately trying to stall any release of tax info until after the 2011 return is in and that’s the one he’ll eventually release.

    Came here to say the same thing. Moving investments “on shore” perhaps? If that’s possible.

  105. 105
    Napoleon says:

    @Brachiator:

    It isn’t “faking it” to not take a deduction, or advantage of a lower rate. You are not REQUIRED by law to do so. That is his point.

  106. 106
    gaz says:

    I think Mitt should stay the course and refuse to release his tax statements to the peons.

  107. 107
    eric says:

    Here is my surmise: romney was governor less than 10 years ago, such that he was playing the moderate pro-choice, non-homophobe who thought that was the route to electoral success. I would bet that he has charitable donations from that time period that will KILL him in the GOP primary, and while it may dampen GOP turnout in November it will fuel the independents in their belief that he is not that conservative. That is why (I think) he is waiting until after he gets the nomination. The tax rate stuff and the LDS are to be expected.

  108. 108
    Zach says:

    Earlier today I looked into New Hampshire property records. Ann Romney purchased (and still owns) property in New Hampshire in 1997 on which the Romney family’s summer mansion is now built (as opposed to their La Jolla winter mansion and their “primary residence” for voting purposes in their son’s basement).

    In my little bit of research, I couldn’t find where Mitt’s paid state income tax. It was apparently not in MA for some time before he ran for Governor (apparently, Utah), because he had to pay back taxes in order to get on the ballot. Capital gains aren’t taxed in New Hampshire — did Romney use his New Hampshire residence as a tax shelter?

  109. 109
    jibeaux says:

    One thing that occurs to me, too, is that most people probably have no idea what their effective federal tax rate is. Even if you know what bracket you’re in, that’s useless. I’m sure this exists — a website where you can plug in a few numbers from your return, and get your effective tax rate including and not including your payroll taxes?

  110. 110

    @Yutsano:

    It is not fraud to not claim all your possible deductions. In fact he could pay more taxes than he must and then refile later and get all he is due refunded after he loses the election.

  111. 111
    Triassic Sands says:

    Someone would say Michelle has a fat ass…

    I call BS. Michelle Obama definitely does not have a fat ass.

    But she is a little angry and perhaps a bit uppity. And then there’s the socialism problem. Has anyone ever seen her long form birth certificate? And what about the affair she had with Bill Ayers? Not to mention their love child. And how about her crusade to starve America’s children so the food can be sent to Muslim kids? Man, and don’t get me started on the Michelle O. — George Soros connection! And when the hell is she going to release her grades from high school?

  112. 112
    Kola Noscopy says:

    @Roc:

    He’s delaying because he knows the Democrats are still playing Gentleman’s politics. So he’ll wait to release just 2011’s return and though ‘no-one’ will be satisfied with that transparent ruse, the Democrats won’t take him to task over it. They’ll toast his cleverness and go back to pitching nuanced technical arguments about tax rates in general.Hell, they probably won’t even shake the Bain tree nearly as much as the other candidates already have.

    THIS.

    Now, if only we knew WHY this is so…

  113. 113
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @eric: But that’d be a very dangerous game, because as much good as it might do to point to a past of “moderation,” it would also enhance the sense that he’s currently a two-faced weasel.

  114. 114
    rlrr says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I doubt that. He tithes 10% to the Mormon Church.

    He’s supposed to tithe. There’s speculation he’s short changing the Mormon Church…

  115. 115
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Zach: No income tax in NH, I think, only property tax.

  116. 116
    SFAW says:

    What’s sorta interesting is that, based only on his income from speeches, his tithing $$$ would be (I think) more than the median income for US workers.

    $40k/speech? Nice “work” if you can get it, I guess. Hell, I’ll be glad to give five or so of his speeches for half his rate. I’ll even promise not to change my “principles” in the middle of the speech.

  117. 117
    Zach says:

    Expect attack ads to note Romney’s “little bit of income from my book” and speakers’ fees that are “not very much.”

    According to his 2012 disclosure, Romney got tens of thousands of dollars to Skype into a motivational seminar… combine that with his “I’m unemployed!” remark, love of firing things, etc and you could have a really memorable series of ads.

  118. 118
    rlrr says:

    @Mike G:

    Teresa Heinz Kerry was born and raised in Mozambique by Portuguese parents, and went to college in South Africa and Switzerland before moving to the United States. So to the Party of Idiots, of course she is “French”.

    Romney’s father was born in Mexico…

  119. 119
    catclub says:

    Mitt Romney gave 9 count em, 9 speeches and received ( I will not say earned) $374000.
    $41000 per speech. How many lasted longer than an hour?

    I bet no Social Security was withheld from any of those checks, either.

    Remember when Alex Rodriguez was earning $25M and that worked out to $154k/game. A baseball game that lasts three hours has him being paid a touch more per hour than Romney was for his speeches.

    But he can play.

  120. 120
    Warren Terra says:

    @Zach:

    In my little bit of research, I couldn’t find where Mitt’s paid state income tax. It was apparently not in MA for some time before he ran for Governor (apparently, Utah)

    I’d forgotten that episode. He has a history of cheating on his taxes – well, engaging in legal but unethical practices in order to minimize his taxes – in a way that damages his electoral chances, and then paying extra to rectify the situation at the last minute.

    Unfortunately, he has a history of getting away with it, too.

    @Brachiator:
    What am I confusing? Mitt isn’t earning a paycheck, so he isn’t paying payroll taxes; in any case, rich folks don’t pay payroll taxes on a significant portion of their income. The Republicans like to talk about “federal taxes” meaning only income tax, so that they can point out that most Americans don’t pay income tax, but half of all people woh do pay income tax pay more in payroll tax. It’s totally fair game to compare peoples’ total federal tax liabilities, measured against their total incomes.

  121. 121
    eric says:

    @FlipYrWhig: he will try and not produce them, but if he does it is why he is waiting

  122. 122

    @SFAW:

    I’ll even promise not to change my “principles” in the middle of the speech.

    This disqualifies you from making $20,000 for a speech.

  123. 123
    SFAW says:

    If ol’ Willard’s been given a special dispensation to not give a full 10%, and that comes to light, it will destroy the Mormon church.

    “Destroy”? Right. Kinda like priests screwing altar boys “destroyed” the Catholic Church.

    Or, to match the hyperbole: this post and the ensuing comments is/are/am perhaps the greatest threat(s) to the Constitution — EVAH!.

  124. 124
    rlrr says:

    @catclub:

    Kind of like Bush Sr. claiming a hotel room in Houston as his legal residence in order to get out of paying state income taxes…

  125. 125
    Lojasmo says:

    @Yutsano:

    Otherwise known as “half a bet.”

  126. 126
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    For comparison’s sake: on December 30, 2005, T. Boone Pickens donated $165m to the Oklahoma State golf program, taking advantage of the temporary post-Katrina rise in the percentage-of-AGI cap on charitable deductions. That donation was then re-invested by OSU… in Pickens’ hedge fund.

  127. 127
    Zach says:

    @catclub: I imagine ARod puts more work into his game than Romney does into his motivational speeches… and ARod can’t play via satellite.

  128. 128
    SFAW says:

    This disqualifies you from making $20,000 for a speech.

    I prefer to think of it this way: since I’d only be receiving half of what Mittens would be getting, I’d only take half as many positions as he takes on any/every issue. So, as far as the rubes are concerned, I’d only have one position per issue.

    If they think it’s because I’m “principled”, who am I to try to convince them otherwise?

  129. 129
    Brachiator says:

    @Napoleon:

    It isn’t “faking it” to not take a deduction, or advantage of a lower rate. You are not REQUIRED by law to do so. That is his point

    Jeebus on a pogo stick. You cannot misreport capital gain income as ordinary income. You cannot misreport numbers from a K1. There are penalties for knowingly filing a false tax return. This is why I have been very clear (as has Yutsano) in distinguishing between a false tax return and a fraudulent tax return.

    And yeah, it also subjects you to big ass penalties to not take a deduction or to not report expenses if it gives you a credit to which you would not otherwise be entitled.

    The wild speculation about what Mitt might do is just wrongheaded, especially since, at his income level, playing around with numbers, even if he could do it, would serve little purpose. He simply cannot make his tax returns look like an average Joe’s.

    @The Other Bob:

    It is not fraud to not claim all your possible deductions. In fact he could pay more taxes than he must and then refile later and get all he is due refunded after he loses the election.

    This can leave you open to some serious penalties. The tax preparer could be fined as well.

  130. 130
    SFAW says:

    and ARod can’t play via satellite.

    FTFY (in both the current sense, and the Steve Gilliard sense).

  131. 131
    Catsy says:

    If ol’ Willard’s been given a special dispensation to not give a full 10%, and that comes to light, it will destroy the Mormon church.

    We should be so lucky.

    No, I think it’s contributions to Planned Parenthood or other evil liberal causes, evidence of just how little he pays in taxes, or both.

  132. 132
    Donut says:

    @jl:

    I see Brachiator beat me to it, but “accounting flunkies” are also known as CPAs, and believe it or not, it’s actually pretty hard to find a CPA who will knowingly break the law. (ETA — I know plenty of CPAs do break the law, but the percentage is small, considering there are 10s of thousands of them actively fling returns). Until pretty recently I worked with CPAs on a daily basis, and they are pretty stodgy types, and even accidentally fucking up a tax return (not to mention deliberately filing an incorrect return) is not something you really find happening a lot.

    I am glad to see hay being made out of this issue, and I don’t necessarily think Romney is handling this badly. I think he wants to delay making anything public until after the first round of primaries are done, more than anything. My guess is he knows very well that he’s going to take lumps over this, but wants to wait until the nomination is pretty well locked up, which it probably will be soon.

    I think we will see a lot of super PAC action on Romney and building of memes, but the Obama campaign itself will likely steer clear of directly attacking him on his taxes, unless there is something so egregious in there. I think they are better off just painting him as untrustworthy and as a prevaricator, as far as what the candidate focuses on, and leave the dirty work to surrogates and third parties.

  133. 133
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Does Mitt Romney remind people of the other clueless Mr MoneyBags, Steve Forbes? Why is Mitt even running, he doesn’t seem like it he is enjoying all that much.

  134. 134
    ericblair says:

    @Donut:

    I am glad to see hay being made out of this issue, and I don’t necessarily think Romney is handling this badly. I think he wants to delay making anything public until after the first round of primaries are done, more than anything.

    I dunno. We’re not the only ones speculating like crazy about it, and the way he got caught off guard is completely amateur hour for someone who’s spent the last umpty-ump years just running for prez. And if it’s something that he thinks would hurt him in the primaries and not so much in the general, what would that be? And why wouldn’t it cost him conservative support in the general if he thinks it would cost him delegates in the primary? He hasn’t exactly got the base locked up.

  135. 135
    Donut says:

    @Brachiator:

    I posted before I read the whole thread…I applaud you for trying, but people are just gonna believe what they wanna believe here; I am not pretending to be a tax expert, BTW, but have had a lot of conversations about tax preparation with CPAs in order to better understand their job. Most of them get damn uptight about the possibility of making an unintentional error, let alone committing fraud.

  136. 136
    jl says:

    @Donut: I didn’t mean to diss CPAs (Except see Monte Python for the social problems created by Chartered Accountancy). I was writing from Mitt’s perspective, who, as we know, likes to be able to fire people who provide him services.

    I wasn’t joking about Mitt using whatever legal tricks available to make his return look better than otherwise. I agree there is not much that can be done, but I also think Romney has bad judgement, and this is the kind of inept political trick we can expect from him personally, if not from his corporate allies.

    The real issue is probably past returns that will look really creepy, and if what commenter above says is true, that Romney has routinely practiced borderline legal tax evasion in the past, and then fixes things up when he has too later, some old returns might look really creepy.

    So, our motto must be “Release the past returns like other candidates have.”

  137. 137
    R. Porrofatto says:

    It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything,” Mr. Romney said.

    Which comes mostly from capital gains and dividends taxes.

    In a startling coincidence, Mitt Romney’s economic plan calls for the elimination of capital gains and dividends taxes. So if he’s elected he can say his tax rate “is probably closer to the zero percent rate than anything.”

  138. 138
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @R. Porrofatto: So he is a rentier, not a job-creator.

  139. 139
    Calouste says:

    The least thing we know that the tax returns will show is that either Romney didn’t tithe 10% to the LDS, or if he did, he donated at least $ 1 million to the LDS. Either of these is not going to sit well with some group or another.

  140. 140
    Donut says:

    @ericblair:

    Well, I don’t disagree with you completely that he’s handling it poorly, and I’m glad he is, as a Democratic voter. It pleases me to no end.

    However, I think, like a lot of high net worth people, he employs a very good and very elite CPA firm, which follows the tax code meticulously, but which saves him a lot of money. There could be any number of things in his returns that would embarrass him with different constituencies, but that said, I just have a really hard time believing he’s hiding anything illegal.

  141. 141
    Donut says:

    @jl:

    Oh, okay, sorry, I get the joke now – kinda went over my head. Anyway, I guess we’re not in disagreement so much…

  142. 142
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Donut: Not illegal, just politically embarrassing.

  143. 143
    SFAW says:

    So he is a rentier, not a job-creator.

    That’s pretty harsh, man. I mean, he created somewhere between 100,000** and 12 gazillion jobs when he was running Bain Manufacturing and Jahb Creators, Inc., so can’t you cut him a little slack, you boshulist? Go out and get a job, ya loozah!

    **or less

  144. 144
    Captain C says:

    @Steve:

    “If he hasn’t been tithing the revelation will destroy the Mormon Church!”

    He certainly could lose his Temple Recommend.

  145. 145
    Brachiator says:

    @Donut:

    I posted before I read the whole thread…I applaud you for trying, but people are just gonna believe what they wanna believe here

    Yep. It is interesting to see how wild the speculation here is. It will be even crazier if Mitt eventually releases his tax returns. It’s almost as nutty as the birther nonsense.

    [I] have had a lot of conversations about tax preparation with CPAs in order to better understand their job. Most of them get damn uptight about the possibility of making an unintentional error, let alone committing fraud.

    People think that crooked CPAs are easy to come by. But I had lunch the other day with a guy who turned away some serious business because of the taint of wrongdoing.

    And bad work is not that hard to zero in on. I have a relative who is a forensic accountant and worked busting bad banks in the 70s S and L mess. He just loved it when people gave him obviously bad books to go over. It was like, “Really? Is this the best you could come up with?”

  146. 146
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.”

    “Not very much” being $374k in a year.

    “Not very much”

    Over $40k a speech.

    That’s one night.

    More than most people make in a year.

    Need tumbrel. Stat.

  147. 147
    cat48 says:

    Brian Ross,ABC, did a Report on this & he says Romney & Wife are heavily invested in Offshore Accounts. It’s near the end of the video b/c he covers “The Wealth” Factor first:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/.....st=1299636

  148. 148
    rb says:

    @jl: In 2000 I thought Bush II was the worse the GOP could foist in the country who had a chance of success, sadly I was wrong. This year, the whole field was worse.

    Holy crap. I actually hadn’t thought of it that way, but – jesus.

    Their whole field is worse than Dubya.

    And that is really saying something.

    Good lord. You blew my mind.

  149. 149
    Donut says:

    @Brachiator –

    Former accountants professional liability insurance underwriter here. Used to hear a lot from CPAs how often they walked away from new business that had even a whiff of something wrong…

  150. 150

    @Brachiator:

    I can’t really see that Obama would make a big deal of this. And the average joe doesn’t care much about this. The Repubs just piled on because it was an easy stick to use against Kerry. It never made any real sense.

    It made sense because it was an easy line of attack that had a clear resonance. You don’t need to explore the issue much beyond that.

    And why would President Obama be the one leading the charge on this? It’s almost like the concept of surrogates doesn’t exist on the Left.

  151. 151
    JCT says:

    @jl:

    So, our motto must be “Release the past returns like other candidates have.”

    Followed by the important corollary, “UNLESS, of course, you’re uh, HIDING something…”

    Romney is just a sleaze bag, pure and simple. Nothing likable or laudable. Good going GOP!

  152. 152
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Brachiator:

    There is no universe in which Mitt can magically turn capital gain income into ordinary income. It would be interesting, though, to see Mitt file a fraudulent tax return just do win the GOP nomination.

    Is it tax fraud to intentionally *overstate* the applicable tax rate, as by declaring long-term capital gains as short-term gains, or by claiming that a qualified dividend is not qualified? If statute/precedent hold this to be tax fraud, would a jury convict such a taxpayer?

  153. 153
    Zach says:

    @R. Porrofatto:

    In a startling coincidence, Mitt Romney’s economic plan calls for the elimination of capital gains and dividends taxes.

    Romney’s actually one of the only candidates not calling to zero out the capital gains tax. Instead, he wants raise the zero percent long-term income cap from the 15% tax bracket to the top tax bracket. This means zero long-term capital gains taxes for 99.5% of filers (probably more; I’m being conservative). It’s a small liability in the primary, but no one’s challenged him on it. A GOP nominee proposing zeroing capital gains taxes for everyone would have a huge general election liability: you call it the Paris-Hilton tax cut and cut ads pointing out that billionaire heirs and heiresses who’ve not worked a day in their life could never pay a dime of income tax.

  154. 154
    Zach says:

    @Tonal Crow: Mitt can generate arbitrary amounts of short-term capital gains that are taxed at the top rate if he feels like it — cash out dividends instead of reinvesting, sell assets purchased in the last year that have appreciated, etc. He won’t do it though; people will just ask about his returns in previous years… which they’ll do anyway once he releases this year’s return.

    My guess is that he won’t release anything; his old returns are too damaging. This will come up in the debates and be fodder for Obama’s campaign commercials, but it won’t be as damaging as releasing the returns. When it comes up at the debates, he’s got an easy answer:

    “America’s corporate tax is the highest in the world, and Barack Obama has done nothing to fix it. I will lower the corporate income tax to bring jobs to America! When myself and other venture capitalists invest in businesses that do well, we earn dividends called capital gains. These are taxed at 15%, but the corporate earnings that are used to pay dividends are already taxed at 35% — again, that’s the highest in the world. The IRS says that I pay about 15% of my income in Federal taxes, but that’s after Uncle Sam takes another 35%, and this double tax pushes investors away from American businesses and takes money and jobs to China.

    Some say this is unfair, but I think it’s OK for wealthy people like myself to be taxed a little more. But I want to help the middle class, so I am taking that 15% rate down to zero for 99% of Americans. This means hundreds or thousands of extra dollars a year for regular people, and will encourage investment in American businesses.”

  155. 155
    jpe says:

    @Brachiator:

    There is no universe in which Mitt can magically turn capital gain income into ordinary income.

    Sure there is. You can elect treat 15% income as ordinary income on your form 4952. (See 26 CFR 1.163(d)-1)

  156. 156
    cmorenc says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Charitable contributions are lose-lose for Romney. It’s just as likely that an examination of his returns would reveal that he hasn’t been tithing to the LDS church, which would make him bishop non grata in a great big hurry.

    I’m not a Mormon, but trust me: the LDS church hierarchy already knows *exactly* how much Romney has given to the church this year, last year, the year before that…and so on. If he was stingy with them, they’d have long already been on his case to the extent they were going to be.

    The LDS church is one of the best and most exactly run and well-organized entities on the planet, and nothing of any importance within their realm escapes their attention. If you’ve ever visited their home complex at Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City (they encouragingly welcome visitors), this impression is overwhelmingly unmistakable. It’s a real pleasure if an evening trip to downtown Salt Lake City coincides with a Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice…you get to hear nice pieces of one of the most magnificent choral ensembles on earth, for free, often in the Tabernacle itself which has some of the most magnificent acoustics of any building on the planet.

    I’ll never be a Mormon myself, and their political inclinations are seriously out of sync with mine. However, I have to give it to them that they do have their organizational act together.

  157. 157
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Romney: “And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.”

    Let the tone-deafness of this sink in; to Willard Romney, just under $375,000.00 is “not very much”. This is someone who has no idea of the true value of a dollar to the average American out there. The fact that he wants to lead this country should scare the fuck out of any sane person.

    Willard obviously hasn’t upgraded his firmware recently. With all of that money he has you would think that his support team could have someone whip up some empathy logic, code it and upgrade his firmware.

  158. 158
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Willard obviously hasn’t upgraded his firmware recently. With all of that money he has you would think that his support team could have someone whip up some empathy logic, code it and upgrade his firmware.

    How many times have you tried to upgrade a device’s firmware? And what percentage of the time did it render the device completely nonfunctional? There’s your answer. It’s just too risky.

  159. 159
    smintheus says:

    @Reflectionephemeral: On top of that, Romney is not exactly a stirring orator is he? More of a borator.

  160. 160
    R. Porrofatto says:

    @Zach: You are correct. Perry and Gingrich want to eliminate capital gains taxes, Romney only for those making under $200,000, which is meaningless for the bulk of those people, but whatever. He does want to permanently eliminate the estate tax, and I’d bet that if he got rid of cap gains for the under $200k folks, it wouldn’t be long before they’d disappear for the 1 percenters, too.

  161. 161
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    That fucker can afford to have a cold boot force-flash option for recovery!

    Excuses are for liebruls!

  162. 162
    Brachiator says:

    @jpe: RE: There is no universe in which Mitt can magically turn capital gain income into ordinary income.

    Sure there is. You can elect treat 15% income as ordinary income on your form 4952.

    OOH. Good one. Point noted. Of course in this case, you would have investment interest expense. You would not be making this election just to increase your taxes to please the plebes.

    @Tonal Crow:

    Is it tax fraud to intentionally overstate the applicable tax rate, as by declaring long-term capital gains as short-term gains, or by claiming that a qualified dividend is not qualified? If statute/precedent hold this to be tax fraud, would a jury convict such a taxpayer?

    Again, I noted that there could be fines and penalties for filing a false return. Tax preparers could be penalized as well for knowingly preparing an incorrect tax return. This is not the same thing as filing a fraudulent return. Fraud is a whole nother nasty beast.

    It’s really wild to see the Balloon Juice commentariat twist themselves into knots to come up with scenarios in which Mitt files bad returns to look good to voters.

    If his income for the year is in the millions, or even the high hundreds of thousands, there just is not a lot of room to play with numbers so it looks less rich. And he’s already admitted that the bulk of his pile is taxed at the 15% rate. Even Mitt can’t flip a flop big enough to spin this into ordinary income.

    @Zach:

    Mitt can generate arbitrary amounts of short-term capital gains that are taxed at the top rate if he feels like it—cash out dividends instead of reinvesting, sell assets purchased in the last year that have appreciated, etc.

    He can’t do this for 2011. Not without a time machine. And if he had a time machine, he could go back in time and make himself into a laid off auto worker, and then claim a rags to riches story.

  163. 163

    If Romney is so clueless about Jes’ Folks that he describes 347K as “not much,” then why does he think his tax returns have explosive power? He was born with FU money, and he doesn’t WANT to release his returns. He doesn’t see why he should have to.

    Releasing returns is for the little people.

  164. 164
    gogol's wife says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    This is my favorite leitmotif on Balloon Juice. I hope it will get me through November laughing.

  165. 165
    jpe says:

    You would not be making this election just to increase your taxes to please the plebes.

    That was kinda the whole premise of this whole discussion: could Mittens recharacterize his income in order to raise his rate and please the plebes.

  166. 166
    Mike in NC says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Willard obviously hasn’t upgraded his firmware recently.

    They could upgrade the circuit boards, too, but gold and platinum are damned expensive.

  167. 167
    AxelFoley says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    @Warren Terra: I would also guess that some of his money is stashed in overseas accounts. I would also guess that if he has charitable donations they have gone to some “unsavory” organizations (like planned parenthood for instance). Pure speculation on my part of course.

    Isn’t it irresponsible to speculate? ;)

  168. 168
    Brachiator says:

    @jpe:

    That was kinda the whole premise of this whole discussion: could Mittens recharacterize his income in order to raise his rate and please the plebes.

    And the answer early on was, and continues to be, No.

    The only reason why this speculation is useful is that it may be a fair reading of the skepticism that will accompany whatever Mitt does. And he probably could not get away with releasing his return only for 2011, because a chunk of people might immediately suspect that he played with the numbers so that the return looked different from earlier years.

    Really ironic that people are demanding that Mitt release all of his long form tax returns.

  169. 169
    smintheus says:

    It will be interesting to see whether Mitt took advantage of the recent IRS amnesty for hidden offshore bank accounts.

  170. 170
    Bruce S says:

    Yeah, but he knows all the lines to America The Beautiful. I’ve heard he can even recite it in French…

  171. 171
    rikyrah says:

    that he admitted to 15 percent, means that he probably pays 5-10% on his taxes.

    and the bullshyt that he’s only gonna release one year?

    G-T-F-O-H

  172. 172
    AxelFoley says:

    @Cris (without and H):

    Must be nice to be unemployed like Mitt.

    And we’re gonna make sure he stays unemployed.

  173. 173
    Ron Paul says:

    @WaynersT:

    Seriously, who straps a dog to a car roof for 12 hours.

    That dog is not the federal government’s responsibility!

  174. 174
    JoeShabadoo says:

    @dmsilev:
    This stood out to me too.

    $374,327.62 is so small that he doesn’t even consider it an relevent.

  175. 175
    JR in WVa says:

    @jl: I think 10% is a minimum. If you want to get your own universe/planet to be god over, you have to tithe more like 50%. IIRC.

  176. 176
    JR in WVa says:

    @WaynersT: Yes, he is. Both!

  177. 177
    Zach says:

    Someone needs to start a tumblr or whatever for sums of money or material goods that Mitt Romney believes are insignificant. Two good examples here. Also:
    1. He’s employed in a number of capacities, but is still unemployed.
    2. He tore down that $12 million house in Country Club, California (seriously, that’s the name of the town it’s in).
    3. The $10,000 bet with Perry.
    4. Killing bin Laden will result in a “very insignificant increase in safety.”

  178. 178
    Duane says:

    I heard some R saying after Mitt said around 15% because of capital gains income…that see… this is why we need flat tax of 15% then everyone would pay same 15% Mitt does…..of course they left out the fact that all flat tax plans i see either want 0% capital gains tax or much lower…so yeah still wouldn’t be paying the same…

  179. 179
    Pseudonym says:

    @Zach: How does one respond to that argument?

  180. 180
    Zach says:

    @Pseudonym: In terms of campaign ads, you don’t. You keep running ads saying that Mitt is out of touch. You calculate the average tax cut for everyone making more than $1 million under Mitt’s plan and the average tax increase for everyone in the bottom 4 quintiles (relative to current policy, Romney is proposing an increase for everyone who doesn’t have significant capital gains income). You also go beyond the usual statistics that are reported in “tax units.” There are more children per tax unit in the poorest quintiles. Statistical strata should be defined by the number of people in each slice, not the number of 1040s.

    In terms of answering Mitt’s dissembling at the debate. Think of Reagan’s “there he goes again…” Make Mitt’s ability to change the subject a liability by pointing it out every time he does it. Every time Mitt gets a question and does not answer it, you point out what the question was and answer it for him, showing why he tried to avoid it. For example:

    Moderator: “Governor, you said that the auto bailout plan was terrible. Now you say that Obama copied your plan. What’s the deal?

    Romney: “Obama used taxpayer money to make GM a part of the Federal government. I would have demanded GM reorganize and become more efficient to compete! Obama eventually took this part of my plan.”

    Moderator: “What say you, Obama?”

    Obama: “There he goes again. First, Mitt wanted to put Detroit out of business — he wrote an article called ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.’ Today, GM is growing and creating tens of thousands of new, American jobs. In only two years, GM turned around and is privately owned — you can buy part of the company in the stock market!

    This is what Gov. Romney does over and over again — I do something that Mitt and other Republicans have supported in the past and he says, ‘This is terrible! This will destroy American!’ If I don’t succeed, he says he was right. If I do succeed, he says that I took his idea. Mitt says making sure everyone has health insurance is terrible; it’s unconstitutional! But his health plan did it in MA — he said it was a great idea and that the whole nation should do the same thing. When the health reform bill is in full effect in two years and everyone is insured, will he take the credit again? What about when he said that it wasn’t worth our time to go after Osama bin Laden… what does he say now?”

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