Ain’t Got Time to Take a Fast Train

David Kurtz at TPM:

The highlight of a summary of Mitt and Ann Romney’s tax rates for each year from 1990 to 2009, provided by the Romney campaign (the actual summary will be released at 3 p.m. ET), is that the Romneys paid federal income taxes each year. There is no year in which they paid zero taxes or had an effective rate of zero, according to the campaign. “Over the entire 20-year period, the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66%,” the campaign says.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) famously – and repeatedly – said he had a reliable source who claimed Romney had paid zero taxes for 10 years.

I have no idea if Reid’s source is right, but a notarized letter from Price Waterhouse saying what Mitt’s tax rate was for the last 10 years should only be seen as a weak, weasely fucking joke that tells us nothing.

First, I’m not a lawyer, but I was a notary when I worked to register voters out West where voter suppression isn’t a new fad, and I could have notarized a signature on a shitstain and all that means is that the person who signed it did the signing in front of me.

Second, I can only imagine the complexity of Mitt Romney’s taxes and the different structures he uses in his many tax avoidance schemes. I’m sure that one of Mitt’s accountants could gin up a “tax rate” and consider his calculation correct. Until some independent tax experts look at Mitt’s taxes and calculate the effective tax rate in an agreed-upon way, we don’t have any idea what Mitt paid in taxes those years.

This turd is so laughably weak that Mitt might as well have issued a notarized shitstain. It would provide about the same amount of verifiable information.

127 replies
  1. 1
    Svensker says:

    If he’s releasing a “notarized statement” on his older returns and not the returns themselves that means he doesn’t want me/us to see what’s in them. Why?

  2. 2
    Raven says:

    Got a good christian rasin
    and an 8th grade education
    ain’t no need fo ya’ll to treat me thisaway

  3. 3
    Culture of Truth says:

    I see Mitt Romney has deftly shifted the conversation back to his income taxes. This guy is like a campaign magician!

  4. 4
    cathyx says:

    13.66% tax rate. Can we now talk about how rich people aren’t paying their fair share?

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Bullshit.

    No summaries. No Price-Waterhouse “notarized” reports. I don’t trust any “notary” that has ever been paid by this vile parasite.

    The actual returns. Complete. Let non-paid-by-Mittens experts go over them and look at them.

    Absolutely agree that a “notarized shitstain” is about as helpful.

  6. 6
    Brachiator says:

    Richard Nixon: I am not a crook.

    Mitt Romney: I am not a moocher.

  7. 7
    General Stuck says:

    An affidavit is what they needed. I suspect that was unpossible, and you can fill in the blanks why.

  8. 8

    And isn’t it interesting that releasing the summary appears to be a way to avoid releasing that 2009 return that will show Swiss amnesty?

  9. 9

    Harry Reid is correct, I am pretty certain that Romney didn’t pay any taxes whatsoever from the ages of 1 to 10. :)

  10. 10
    Poopyman says:

    Harry Reid doesn’t give a shit whether he’s proven “wrong” or not. The fact Romney is STILL responding to him means he won.

  11. 11
    Culture of Truth says:

    “Governor Romney, if you were not running for President, would you have taken those deductions?”

    No – he’s lying
    Yes – he’s screwed

  12. 12
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Gekko/Galt is the anvil
    We are the HAMMER!

    Hammer it home

  13. 13
    skyway says:

    The PWC statement only says that over 20 years all the taxes owed was paid. Sound to me like Romney took the amnesty and paid his back taxes.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    Don’t understand the notarized letter. Why would PriceWaterhouseCoopers lie for Romney? If they get found out, that’s not good for them.

  15. 15
    beltane says:

    And on the family values front, the contract Tagg Romney had with the surrogate mother to his twins gave her the right to terminate the pregnancy at her discretion. Mitt apparently paid for the deal at least in part http://www.tmz.com/2012/09/20/.....ll-handel/

    Not that this is the business of You People but it is still amusing nonetheless.

  16. 16
    cathyx says:

    And remember, Mitt knew he was running for President in 2011, so he could have filed his taxes in a way that shows him in the best light. And this is it.

  17. 17
    Raven says:

    So it was the wrong song, sue me.

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @General Stuck: Why an affidavit?

  19. 19
    mistermix says:

    @Violet: Essentially what they’re saying is “I performed a calculation and the result was X”. That is almost certainly not a lie. The question is the details of the calculation they performed.

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    Rut ro, the thread bomb went off again!

  21. 21
    beltane says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: All the notary attests to is the validity of the signature, not of the contents of the document being signed. An affidavit is what is useful in situation like this.

  22. 22
    Roger Moore says:

    Who believes that the Romney summary of the summary is actually accurate? I’m willing to bet that there’s at least one egregiously misleading statement in that summary of the summary.

  23. 23
    Culture of Truth says:

    For real, I wonder if he realizes how ridiculous he looks the rest of America. So many don’t file or file EZ or barely itemize. Notarized letter. [ snort ]

  24. 24
    EconWatcher says:

    As I commented at the end of another (dead) thread:
    By releasing only summaries, Romney could be using tax penalties he had to pay (for having previously evaded taxes) to jack up his average of “tax payments” over 20 years. In other words, they may be getting to that “20% average” by including penalties he had to pay for being a tax cheat.

    One prediction I can safely make: The summaries will raise more questions than they answer, and will reignite the tax issue that had already mostly died down.

    He’s just not very good at this campaigning thing, is he?

  25. 25
    KenZ says:

    I think Kurtz has the phrasing wrong with respect to “income” taxes. Income tax is paid on wages and are different from capital gains tax.

    The notorized memo says that Mitt paid “federal” taxes, not income taxes. It also pushes the meme of adding his tithe and taxes. If I were LDS, this would be pissing me off.

  26. 26
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    mistermix @ top:

    I have no idea if Reid’s source is right, but a notarized letter from Price Waterhouse saying what Mitt’s tax rate was for the last 10 years should only be seen as a weak, weasely fucking joke that tells us nothing.

    This PricewaterhouseCoopers?

    In 2012, the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) of the UK fined PwC a record £1.4m for wrongly reporting to the Financial Services Authority that JP Morgan Securities had complied with client money rules which protects client funds. … It is the greatest penalty administered to a professional accountancy firm in the UK.

    I don’t know why anyone thinks PwC might lie on Romney’s behalf. Unless they were paid to.

    .

  27. 27
    Brachiator says:

    Bottom line: he’s got to relesase the damn tax returns. Period.

  28. 28
    hueyplong says:

    To close the circle on the post’s commentary, notarization says precisely nothing about the truth or falsity of the matters asserted in the statement.

    I guess what today’s second-hand document dump is telling us is: (1) the effective rate isn’t the steamiest pile in those returns; (2) YES I PAID LESS THAN 15% ALL THE TIME is a lot better than the other stuff we’re talking about; and (3) even in my present state of panic, I really, really don’t want you to see the actual returns.

    Remember when Nixon thought that summaries of the tapes ought to suffice?

  29. 29
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Culture of Truth: I lol’d. We’ll get out of this frying pan! Quick, head towards that orange, flickering light!

  30. 30
    Culture of Truth says:

    Right, so (a) these are not income taxes and (b) 9% is really low and (c) 13% is really low and (d) 20% is still really low!

  31. 31
    Pamoya says:

    @KenZ: Exactly. They didn’t say federal income taxes, they said “lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate.” What in the hell does that mean?

  32. 32
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    I dunno – Price-Waterhouse is putting their rep on the line if this ends up being bullshit. I don’t think they’d risk that for a guy who’s losing.

    Because of that, I’m very interested to see what the notarized summary actually says, and not what the summaries of the summary say that it says. “The average tax rate is X” implies that taxes were paid each year but doesn’t actually directly say it, so I’ll bet it’s something bullshitty like that.

  33. 33
    General Stuck says:

    This frenetic campaigning, darting from one impulsive nugget of bullshit to the next, I wonder if is in part due to the corporate mentality of rush rush, run run. Go get em, to be the earliest worm. And now Romney and crew have thousands of peeps checking their bleats for truthyness. It is an insane way to run for any office, but off the charts clueless for running a POTUS campaign. This was all predictable, but the republican voters had not much choice but go with this ambitious chameleon. And I think it was their best choice, albeit disastrous, and was always going to that. I think it is due to the polarization within the GOP, and any others that might have passed muster with at least the requisite character to be president, knew enough to know they would have to be just like Mitt Romney to get nominated, as appearing to be all things to all wingnuts all the time.

  34. 34
    Phoenix_rising says:

    Effective rates are a distraction. Notary schomtary. Objection based on relevance, but anytime we can get “Mitt Romney” and “shitstain” showing up together in a search string I guess that’s its own reward.

    The particulars of this Friday PM document dump answers, to my satisfaction, the remaining question about why he was so stubborn about releasing his back taxes.

    Mitt Romney took advantage of the 2009 one-time amnesty for declaring his massive offshore accounts.

    The reason he did so was to avoid doing time at Club Fed for past years’ tax avoidance strategies, which had become tax evasion.

    We can conclude this this because he has released a summary of the 2009 return but it, and the years preceding it summarized by PWC, are radioactive.

  35. 35
    catclub says:

    @Violet: 1. Depends how much he is paying them.

    2. If Romney is not elected, no one will care.

    3. If Romney is elected, he owes them bigtime.

    All signs point to lying.

  36. 36
    EconWatcher says:

    @FormerSwingVoter:

    They would not be putting their reputation on the line, because numbers are malleable things, and I’m sure there’s some way to construe the numbers to make the assertion accurate.

  37. 37
    Ash Can says:

    So Mitt pays a lousy 14% rate on his 2011 income, and his campaign states in a press release that he cooked his numbers to make that rate look marginally less objectionable. And he tries to bury it in a Friday afternoon doc dump — although everybody knows that when you’re this prominent and doing something related to as big a story as this, you couldn’t bury news like this if you released it at 5AM on New Year’s Day. Announcing this now only insures that it will be topic number one for all the Sunday AM gasbags.

    If only every Republican House candidate were this incompetent.

  38. 38
    NCSteve says:

    Well I am a lawyer (as is, incidentally, David Kurtz.) The legally significant fact isn’t that the statement is notarized, but, rather that it is a statement by certified public accountants.* CPA’s and CPA firms are subject to fairly stringent legal and ethical duties regarding making misrepresentations to the public. So I think you can take it for granted that the statements in the thing can be deemed to be, at least in some sense, literally true.

    However, this “statement,” which, incidentally is a one-off thing invented just for Mittens, not something CPA’s do all the time, is tailor-made to conceal little details like, say,

    *whether these “effective rates” are higher than the ones Mitt claimed before tax sheltered deductions were disallowed when he was audited (because audits of rich people tax returns prepared by an army of accountants and tax lawyers rarely result tax errors being found that were in the taxpayer’s favor);

    *whether these “effective rates” are calculated on the basis of retroactive tax payments made pursuant to the amnesty offer made to UBS Swiss account holders after their bank gave them up to the Service;

    *whether there were any penalties assessed that are being treated as tax payments for the purpose of calculating his effective rates.

    It’s really hard for me to imagine that one or more of these three things aren’t the reason for offering this ridiculous fig leaf rather than the actual damn returns.

    *Well, okay, the notarization is significant to the extent that it says as far as the notary knew, the person who signed the statement was who he said he was.

  39. 39
    patroclus says:

    Given that I don’t know what levels of taxes Romney has paid over the years because he won’t release his tax returns, I’m going to believe Senator Reid’s source until proven wrong. Maybe Harry should get a notary to put a stamp on a document verifying that he made a statement in front of the notary too.

  40. 40
    beltane says:

    @hueyplong:

    Remember when Nixon thought that summaries of the tapes ought to suffice

    Any Republican insider with the intelligence and honesty to point this out would have long-ago been expelled as a RINO traitor (e.g. Peggy Noonan). Yes-men are doing Romney no favors and the moment is approaching when even the loud din of the echo chamber will fail to block out the sounds of the hoofbeats of the Democrata’ cavalry.

  41. 41
    General Stuck says:

    @Violet:

    A written statement of facts voluntarily made by an affiant under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    catclub says:

    @General Stuck: This. Obama won in 2008 and part of how he won was being the opposite of what General Stuck has described. patient. never worry about instant reaction. keep your eyes on the overall goal.

    Thank goodness the lesson taken from THAT campaign by the “political strategists” Romney hired, was: The Black guy was just lucky!

  44. 44
    burnspbesq says:

    @Phoenix_rising:

    You can divine all of that from today’s disclosures?

    Wow. Here are my next six mortgage payments for you to bet on the World Series.

    Romeny’s rate frames the issue quite well without ignorant jackasses making shit up.

  45. 45
    EriktheRed says:

    This turd is so laughably weak that Mitt might as well have issued a notarized shitstain. It would provide about the same amount of verifiable information.

    You may know this and, by extension, we may know this, but what about the millions of other Joe Blows in America who are just now starting to pay attention?

    I don’t think this is a game-changer, but I do think Harry Reid is likely to have a bit of egg on his face as far as most people reading about this are concerned.

  46. 46
    Violet says:

    Note that all this is being released on a Friday afternoon. Trying to hide it.

  47. 47
    yopd1 says:

    @patrick: According to Romney, that disqualifies him from being President:

    I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

  48. 48
    Charlie Dodgson says:

    Rates, shmates. The rate is a fraction of adjusted gross income; the interesting action is almost certainly in what was included in the AGI, what was excluded, and how. And even the returns we have show some obvious funny business there — most notably the gargantuan IRA (over $100 million, supposedly amassed from annual contributions capped at four figures).

  49. 49
    Steve says:

    @NCSteve: I agree that the statements are reliable, for whatever they’re worth. While PWC (like all big auditors) has been busted in the past, it would be too easy to catch them lying about something so easily verifiable as the number which appears on a page. The notable thing is what this letter doesn’t tell us (like the 2009 amnesty, etc.)

    The notary is kind of a red flag to those of us in the know simply because this is a one-off type of document with no legal requirement for a notary. Obviously no one was going to question the authenticity of the letter (since if Romney started waving around a fake letter on PWC letterhead, PWC would scream bloody murder). So the only purpose for a notary is to make the rubes think that this is some super-duper official trustworthy kind of letter.

  50. 50
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Brachiator:

    Richard Nixon: I am not a crook.
    Mitt Romney: I am not a moocher.

    __
    Mitt is the most Nixonian candidate we’ve had run for President since, well since Nixon; except for the fact that Nixon had more political intelligence and cunning in his little finger than Mitt and all his consultants and camp followers put together. That this is George Romney’s son we are talking about makes the historical irony almost off-the-charts unbelievable.

  51. 51
    Legalize says:

    I don’t give a shit about a notarized letter. The only thing that means anything is a sworn affidavit. Penalty of perjury, bitches.

  52. 52
    drlemur says:

    I’m wondering about the phrase “federal personal tax rate” in the statement. If his assets are largely incorporated, they could be increasing in value and might be subject to a corporate tax rate — or no taxes at all if they are incorporated in a tax haven. I think in this case, there’s also the possibility that if the value of the assets crashed in 2008, the losses could be carried forward into 2009 and produced a zero or negative tax rate (getting back some of his tax money paid in previous years) on the bulk of his investment earnings.

    I think in this scenario, “income” is only what he withdraws from the asset corporation to spend in a given year and these are taxed at the capital gains rate (15%) since they reflect investment gains. He can make a lot more money than that in a year, but as long as it stays in the tax-sheltered corporation, I don’t think it is technically income subject to the “federal personal tax” rate.

    “Corporations are people, my friend” works in both directions.

  53. 53
    Chyron HR says:

    @NCSteve:

    CPA’s and CPA firms are subject to fairly stringent legal and ethical duties regarding making misrepresentations to the public.

    Just ask Arthur Anderson!

  54. 54
    Laura says:

    Now people are gonna wanna know if they could release a summary, why not the whole shebang? God this campaign is horrible.

  55. 55
    wasabi gasp says:

    Release the long-form!

  56. 56
    Violet says:

    @EriktheRed: Depends how the news cycle goes. If not much happens elsewhere and this statement just reopens the can of worms, with knowledgeable accountants pointing out how this letter is both unusual and meaningless, allowing “Why won’t he let us see the returns to judge for ourselves” storyline to percolate out there, then I think the general public will wonder what’s going on.

    If something big happens–white girl goes missing, shark attack, Romney secret video, etc.–then it’s not going to stick.

  57. 57
    smintheus says:

    Also won’t tell us whether Mitt took part in a tax amnesty, esp. the UBS amnesty from 2009.

    Or whether he’s been stowing money away in tax havens or hiding it in overseas accounts.

    All this does is beg the question: Now that he’s admitted the public has a legitimate interest in knowing about his financial history, why not just quit playing games and release those tax forms?

  58. 58
    TG Chicago says:

    The tax thing flared up back in July. They’re releasing this statement two months later.

    What do you imagine was happening in those intervening two months? Obviously, Romney had accountants and lawyers laboring away trying to figure out a way to release something that sounded good without releasing the actual damning returns.

    TWO MONTHS it took to come up with something. And all they have is this!

    How bad must his returns be if this is the best his team could come up with after two full months of working on it?

  59. 59
    roc says:

    Really? He wants to go back to talking about his taxes?

    That’s like slamming your dick in the door to distract from the pain of a broken leg.

  60. 60
    EconWatcher says:

    Harry Reid will have some fun with this–particularly with the possiblity that the Mittster is including penalties he paid after he was caught cheating on taxes to claim a higher effective tax rate over the years.

    It would be like John Gotti claiming he’s public-spirited based on his contributions to the public treasury, from all of his RICO forfeitures.

  61. 61
    gwangung says:

    @General Stuck:

    This frenetic campaigning, darting from one impulsive nugget of bullshit to the next, I wonder if is in part due to the corporate mentality of rush rush, run run. Go get em, to be the earliest worm. And now Romney and crew have thousands of peeps checking their bleats for truthyness. It is an insane way to run for any office, but off the charts clueless for running a POTUS campaign.

    A good amount of truth, as hedge funds thrive on arbitrage, which is going for minute advantages to trade off of in bulk amounts, advantages which may last for split seconds.

    As you say…may make business sense, but is no way to run a campaign.

  62. 62
    EconWatcher says:

    @roc:

    Nice!

  63. 63
    👽 Martin says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: This is the same PriceWaterhouseCooper responsible for auditing AIG and Freddie Mac.

    But the thing to keep pointing out: If Romney with his income only pays 14%, then how does lowering the top marginal rate of 35% have any effect on job growth? Isn’t that an argument we should be raising the cap gains and carried interest rates to 35% because the marginal rates are so easy to avoid?

  64. 64
    Culture of Truth says:

    good lord, even if Harry Reid did have egg on his face and whole body, so what? We have 1,200 pages to pore and we’re still talking about Mittens hidden taxes.

    I’ve long said that like the GOP we need people willing to be role players, agitators, not worrying that they themselves, might, might, want to be President, but are willing to take one for the team. The GOP has many many such people. I say thank god for Harry Reid. Obama owes him. We all do.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Just to pile on here, summaries tell us nothing. A CPA firm will not release info that is blatantly fraudulent, but they certainly. An put the best possible gloss on things and only release the bits of info Romney wants to have in front of the public.

  66. 66
    Hill Dweller says:

    Willard’s refusal to release his tax returns is a tacit admission they’re politically damaging. This tax summaries chicanery just reinforces that fact.

  67. 67
    Emma says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: They’re probably actually telling the EXACT truth. That’s the percentage he paid. “Effective personal tax” is where the weasel is hiding.

  68. 68
    Culture of Truth says:

    Now people are gonna wanna know if they could release a summary, why not the whole shebang?

    Of course they will! That’s the very first question any Joe Sixpack will ask.

  69. 69
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @👽 Martin:

    But the thing to keep pointing out: If Romney with his income only pays 14%, then how does lowering the top marginal rate of 35% have any effect on job growth? Isn’t that an argument we should be raising the cap gains and carried interest rates to 35% because the marginal rates are so easy to avoid?

    __
    In sophisticated terms, yes. But the bumper-sticker version is that Romney paid less in taxes than what us peons tip a waitress for bringing us a plate of food at the local diner. And that’s the good news…

  70. 70
    beltane says:

    Uh-oh, even Alex Castellanos is not impressed. He compares Mitt’s partial tax-return release to an April Fool’s Day prankhttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/21/1134952/-Former-Mitt-strategist-on-Romneyland-tax-dump-Is-this-an-April-Fool-s-joke

    Who is running the show over at Romneyland?

  71. 71
    Violet says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    Release the long-form!

    Har!

  72. 72
    Culture of Truth says:

    Mitt is the used car salesman who won’t show you the Carfax report.

  73. 73
    Brachiator says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Mitt is the most Nixonian candidate we’ve had run for President since, well since Nixon; except for the fact that Nixon had more political intelligence and cunning in his little finger than Mitt and all his consultants and camp followers put together

    Very true. It took years for Nixon’s demons to finally get the better of him.

    Romney is falling apart at the jump.

  74. 74
    DFH no.6 says:

    Now watch as most of the media trip all over themselves absolving Romney over any questions about his tax returns, and simultaneously excoriating Reid.

    Bet on it. They need to throw Romney a life preserver.

    That this PWC summary thing is rife with all the problems noted in comments here will go right over the heads of the stupid, and be dismissed (if addressed at all) by the clever.

  75. 75
    EconWatcher says:

    @DFH no.6:

    Ordinarily I would agree, but in our current circumstances, I’m not so sure. The Mittster (1) smells like a loser and, even worse, (2) he’s been gratuitously rude to the press. I’m not sure they’re going to do him any favors.

  76. 76
    eemom says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    I see Mitt Romney has deftly shifted the conversation back to his income taxes. This guy is like a campaign magician!

    Srsly.

    Honestly, this guy couldn’t be more of a clown if he sewed on a red nose. I am sitting here giggling my ass off.

  77. 77
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @EconWatcher:

    he’s been gratuitously rude to the press.

    __
    A point of distinction: he’s been gratuitously rude to reporters, the arm of the press who travel with and report on the campaign. He’s also been, mostly thru surrogates, gratuitously rude to some of the pundits (exhibit A: Nooners). But there is still a large slice of the studio-bound pundit class to whom he has not been gratuitously rude, at least not yet. Of course the campaign isn’t over, so if he works hard at it he may be able to get them all in the end. Personally I’m hoping for a Nixonian meltdown along the lines of The Last Press Conference (“..you won’t have Mitt Romney to kick around any more..”) before this is all over. Remember that Mitt gets to write a tell-all memoir about the campaign too. I can’t imagine he is going to take the scorn and criticism coming from his own side in a graceful fashion, without getting his own licks in.

  78. 78
    NCSteve says:

    @Chyron HR: You mean the firm that was destroyed for violating those rules?

  79. 79
    SFAW says:

    @Brachiator:

    Nixon had more political intelligence

    Why limit it to “political”? Nixon was a pretty sharp guy, just angry, paranoid, and amoral. I don’t think Mittens is paranoid, but jury’s still out on “angry.” He’s definitely amoral.

  80. 80
    Hoodie says:

    @NCSteve: The only problem with that is that only applies to people towards which they bear a fiduciary duty, e.g., shareholders, potential investors, etc. This document is a made-up piece of horseshit clearly designed to bamboozle and obfuscate. It has zero legal status, and PwC has no duty to the public in this context. The only thing they have to worry about is the reputational effect of outright lying. Weaseling, however, is expected, in fact, it’s a market advantage. The notary seal is a fucking joke, because this isn’t some document that has to be self-authenticated in court. Unfuckingbelievable that anyone would fall for this, or think that someone would fall for this.

    As others have pointed out, it says nothing about disallowed deductions and other schemes. Hell, Romney may have just finished paying back taxes and penalties yesterday, which is why it took so long to get to this point. They had to comb back through the mess of his tax dodgery and fix the issues to point that satisfied PwC enough to put out this silly, meaningless letter. Maybe they should have gotten Good Housekeeping or a bond rating agency to put it out.

  81. 81
    jonas says:

    This whole imbroglio is a rerun of the Bush National Guard scandal. On one hand, some good ol’ boys in the TANG did the Bush family a solid by signing off that Jr. had completed his service, while journalists could piece together a timeline of events showing that GWB could not have, in fact, completed his duty as he claimed. Reid’s story is looking more and more like the Dan Rather papers — they tell a true story, but are in themselves not true and serve only to discredit their source. In other words, I smell a ratfuck.

  82. 82
    wasabi gasp says:

    Price Waterhouse is where the “ransom hacker” said Romney’s tax returns were lifted. Unless it’s common knowledge that Romney keeps his tax records at PW, this would seem to confirm that part of the ransom note.
    BTW, has anybody seen a follow-up on that story?

  83. 83
    SFAW says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    BTW, has anybody heard seen a follow-up on that story?

    One would hope that someone, somewhere, read about this PWC notarized horseshit, and said “Fuck it, I’m delivering the returns to Larry Flynt and collect me some reward money.”

  84. 84
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Steve:

    The notary is kind of a red flag to those of us in the know simply because this is a one-off type of document with no legal requirement for a notary.

    Exactly. There is already a document with legal weight that provides the relevant information: it’s called a fucking tax return. That you have to make up shit like a “notarized summary of tax returns” is like showing up to class with a notarized account of how the dog ate your homework.

  85. 85
    NCSteve says:

    Btw, as the NYT noted, if Mittens loses, he has three years to file a 1040X and claim the full deduction.

  86. 86
    JD says:

    We should TOTALLY trust the guys who audited AIG.

  87. 87
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    wasabi gasp:

    Unless it’s common knowledge that Romney keeps his tax records at PW, this would seem to confirm that part of the ransom note.

    I don’t know that it’s common knowledge, per se, but it would have been easy to determine, given that PwC was the tax preparer for the 2010 tax return that Romney had already released.

    .

  88. 88
    EconWatcher says:

    @jonas:

    No, not even a little bit. This story can’t boomerang on Obama or even on Reid, unless and until the Mittster releases tax returns showing that concerns about his taxes are unfounded. But he can’t and won’t, and it’s obviously because the concerns are well-founded.

  89. 89
    patrick II says:

    @Phoenix_rising:

    How brazen would Mitt have to be to run for the presidency while having to take a tax amnesty? I thought Newt was the most brazen scofflaw presidential candidate, but if you are right — what was he thinking? If you are right and he really cares about the Republican party how could he think to run without damaging that party? A lot of people and effort have been invested in Mitt for his candidacy, and not that I care about most of those right-wing investors, what a betrayal it would be to his side if Mitt was carrying a hidden landmine the whole time.

  90. 90

    Just started reading Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson, which goes into the history and extent of the world-wide offshore banking business. I’m about 40 pages in and it’s fascinating how the rich can hide their money. Anyone else read it yet?

  91. 91
    Boots Day says:

    I just did a Google search for “effective federal personal tax rate” and not-Romney. There were literally, like, three scattered hits for that term outside of the Romney usage.

    It appears to be a term someone made up exclusively for this notarized statement. What it actually means is anyone’s guess.

  92. 92
    Steve says:

    @NCSteve: Unless I misunderstand, he actually “deferred” the charitable deductions, so he could simply take them on next year’s return without even amending this year’s.

    I honestly can’t believe someone thought it was a great strategy to say “I voluntarily paid more in this year’s return so the number wouldn’t look so low.” These people.

  93. 93
    Carl Nyberg says:

    Romney was accused of not paying taxes.

    So he released tax rates.

    Not amounts of taxes paid.

    If the amount Romney paid was not embarrassing to Romney, he would have released that info too.

  94. 94
    chrismealy says:

    @Charlie Dodgson: This is the most important point, what Romney’s not counting as AGI. We still don’t know that.

  95. 95
    Culture of Truth says:

    effective rate could mean anything. This man once tried to get away with including money he gave away in with taxes he was obliged to pay.

  96. 96
    muddy says:

    @EconWatcher:

    It would be like John Gotti claiming he’s public-spirited based on his contributions to the public treasury, from all of his RICO forfeitures.

    Or like the commercials on tv from BP, where they brag about how much money they pay out just cuz they love the Gulf states. Just cuz.

  97. 97
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @catclub:

    Thank goodness the lesson taken from THAT campaign by the “political strategists” Romney hired, was: The Black guy was just lucky! You’ve got to appeal more to the base!

    Also. Too.

  98. 98
    beltane says:

    @Culture of Truth: The takeaway I get from all this is that rich people like Mitt Romney largely get to write their own rules and pay whatever they want to pay. And yet they still whine about the unfairness of it all.

  99. 99
    smintheus says:

    @patrick II: How could John Edwards run for president while having an affair?

  100. 100
    jah says:

    Over the entire 20-year period, the total federal and state taxes owed plus the total charitable donations deducted represented 38.49% of total AGI.

    why combine taxes with charitable donations when discussing in relation to AGI? the charitable donations are already accounted for in the AGI itself. looks like they want the numerator to be as large as possible while using the lowest possible denominator to get that % as large as possible.

  101. 101
    Ruckus says:

    This turd is so laughably weak that Mitt might as well have issued a notarized shitstain.

    You could have fooled me I thought that’s what he did.

  102. 102
    Steve says:

    @Culture of Truth: “Effective federal personal income tax rate” means “total taxes owed divided by AGI as shown on the tax return.” I know this because it says so in the letter.

  103. 103
    jah says:

    @Steve: I’m not seeing that part in the letter at all. Can you quote it?

  104. 104
    Mike Lamb says:

    @NCSteve: And whether the “effective” rate includes his tithing.

  105. 105
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Mittens: “I’m here to apply for the position you advertised on Craigslist, for President of the United States.”

    American People: “I need a resume, three references, and 10 years of tax returns as part of the vetting process.”

    Mittens: “Here’s my resume, references from Michael Miliken, Gordon Gecko, and Richard Nixon. I’m afraid I can’t provide tax returns, though. Those are personal and private.”

    American People: “Hmmm, well, that’s unfortunate, but, we’ve got your phone number here on the resume, we’ll be in touch.” (under breath “when Hell freezes over, asshole.”)

  106. 106
    Baud says:

    @Steve: @jah:

    From the letter:

    As you requested, we computed each “effective federal personal income tax rate” as total taxes divided by adjusted gross income as shown on the federal income tax returns as prepared.”

  107. 107
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Steve:

    “Effective federal personal income tax rate” means “total taxes owed divided by AGI as shown on the tax return.”

    As a person whose tax expertise is limited to filing my own taxes every year, I may be in over my head. But the quote from Kurtz is “effective federal personal tax rate.” There’s no “income” in there. I’m not actually aware of anything called a “federal personal tax rate,” but it sounds to me like a weaselly way to combine all federal taxes paid and fool gullible people into thinking you’re talking about income taxes.

    ETA: Baud’s comment indicates that the letter uses the phrase both with and without the word “income.” So . . . never mind?

  108. 108
    Boots Day says:

    And of course, in Mitt’s case, “adjusted gross income” probably has merely a nodding acquaintance with his actual income.

  109. 109
    patrick II says:

    @smintheus:
    I don’t know the answer to that one either. But he didn’t make it nearly so far.

  110. 110
    hitchhiker says:

    I want to see what MItt considers “charitable donations.” If it’s just the LDS church, let’s talk about how the LDS church uses the donations of its members not just to send their missionaries all over the planet, but also to insert themselves into policy at election time.

    In other words, is it charity to help a wealthy institution try to grow itself? Is it charity to help a wealthy non-profit try to swing voters in state elections?

    I know you get a deduction for any donation to a church . . . but not all churches actually practice charity, as in, helping the poor. The last church I belonged to gave a quarter of its income directly to the hungry and the homeless through local on-the-ground organizations. It gave zero to political campaigns.

  111. 111
    Heliopause says:

    This turd is so laughably weak that Mitt might as well have issued a notarized shitstain.

    Whatever, but as I keep saying, admitting that you pay only 13-14% on tens of millions of dollars of investment income is pretty damaging in itself.

  112. 112
    PhoenixRising says:

    @burnspbesq: I don’t have as much information about the MLB as I now have about Mitt’s tax history. So that would be foolish of you.

    At the moment, I’m satisfied that the big secret is something that happened in 2009’s return that, if revealed, would make his donors take out contracts on him (as so many of if less-connected peons longed to do to Johnny Edwards when we learned that he spent our ,ones covering up something that would have destroyed not just his campaign but the party had it come out in O ct. 2008). As we know, the amnesty on declaring foreign accounts was limited to that year.

    The minute you have an equally credible explanation for this bozo’s dream of a doc dump, spit it out! We are all eager to hear your theory.

  113. 113
    SFAW says:

    As you requested, we computed each “effective federal personal income tax rate” as total taxes divided by adjusted gross income as shown on the federal income tax returns as prepared.”

    OK, so let’s see now:

    I assume “total taxes” means everything, not just income tax, especially since Mittens made the same distinction in his vid.

    “total taxes” = Income tax + SSI taxes + Medicare

    13.66% = I.T. + OASDI + 2.9%
    10.76% = I.T. + OASDI

    But OASDI is only on the first $100K or so. Considering Mittens probably made more than $5M, the effective rate for OASDI is approx zero.

    So it looks like the sub-11%, as I think someone else noted.

    Standard disclaimer: I’m not an accountant, nor a tax lawyer, nor do I play them on TV, so I’m expecting one of you bean counters to tell me where I messed up, and that his Income Tax rate was only 5% or some such.

    But even if I’m right, a sub-11% tax rate? I’d love to have that, and my wife’s and my combined salaries are a shitload smaller than Mittens’s’s’s’ income.

  114. 114
    Original Lee says:

    @Hoodie: Can you say “Palin medical letter”? That’s what this reminds me of.

  115. 115
    Crza says:

    @Smiling Mortician: I only work for the state of Indiana, not the IRS, so my knowledge of fed tax law is limited. But isn’t “adjusted gross income” what you report on your 1040 *before* factoring in your standard/itemized deductions and exemptions?

    I’m thinking, who the hell cares about AGI here – we want the taxable income amount, right?

    And my knowledge of fed taxes stops short here because I know you also need some way of differentiating the income taxed at the capital gains rate versus the standard individual income tax rate. No idea how that can be done without seeing the entire return.

    Anyway all I know is I evidently pay approx. the same federal individual income tax rate as Romney. Which is some bulllllllshit.

  116. 116
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    At the moment, I’m satisfied that the big secret is something that happened in 2009’s return

    __
    The tell on this score is that McCain’s campaign looked at Romney’s tax returns during the 2008 VP selection process. Whatever is in those returns that is so toxic he can’t let it be known, happened after that. My guess is that he won’t let his taxes for the prior years out because that would just draw more attention to 2009, so he’s stuck with no exit out of this dilema.

  117. 117
    jonas says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: The tell on this score is that McCain’s campaign looked at Romney’s tax returns during the 2008 VP selection process. Whatever is in those returns that is so toxic he can’t let it be known, happened after that.

    I couldn’t find the source at the moment, but IIRC, McCain’s people (FWIW) claim that there were no red flags in Romney’s returns that they vetted (including 2008) and that his financial history had nothing to do with why he wasn’t selected. This, of course, just draws more attention to the 2009 return, when a lot of people suspect he paid little or no tax due to carried-over losses from 2008, and/or participated in the IRS amnesty program for people who had previously concealed income in illegal overseas accounts.

  118. 118
    jonas says:

    @EconWatcher: Ok, point taken. I was thinking primarily in terms of how the media will play it. Does the PWC letter *really* debunk what Reid was claiming? No.(Did debunking the Killian memos really settle whether or not Bush completed his service? No.) How will this get reported in the MSM (via Drudge, et al.)? “Accounting Firm Slaps Down Reid Claim!!1!”

  119. 119
    Mike Lamb says:

    @jonas: And you believe that? McCain said that Palin was just a better candidate. As terrible as Mitt is, it’s inconceivable that Palin was a better candidate.

  120. 120
    Ruckus says:

    @jonas:
    Well yeah. Rich rethug looks at your return and says one of two things.
    Nice, you were able to take that deduction.
    Who is your accountant? I need to speak to him.

  121. 121
    jonas says:

    @Mike Lamb: Eh, if there had been something really crazy in the pre-2008 returns, we’d have heard about it by now. As for choosing Palin — the McCain campaign just blew it. I think that’s pretty much all there was to it.

  122. 122
    Quicksand says:

    @NCSteve:

    You mean the firm that was destroyed for getting caught violating those rules and having it proven?

    There, fixt.

  123. 123
    Captain C says:

    @EconWatcher: For that matter, their ability to make certain numbers (vaguely) plausibly look like the document may be a selling point for their services in the future.

  124. 124
    Captain C says:

    @Culture of Truth: Someone needs to make that video.

  125. 125
    amk says:

    @NCSteve: So what makes you think that pwc won’t go down the same road ? After all that happened in 2008, what all these ‘reputed accounting firms’ say is worth shit.

  126. 126
    amk says:

    reid’s FU tweet to mitt

    The information released today by Mitt Romney reveals he manipulated 1 of the only 2 yrs of tax returns he’s seen fit to show the country

  127. 127
    Mandarama says:

    @Raven: Yeah, but I love the song you were rolling with. “I been to Georgia on a fast train, honey / I wudn’t born no yesterday.”

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