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Friday, October 28, 2016

by Cora Currier, ProPublica

Last week, the website Gawker published more than 900 pages of documents from Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney founded, and headed from 1984 until 1999. The document dump didn’t reveal much about Romney’s personal investments, but it added a bit more to the pressure on Romney to release more of his tax returns. Romney and his wife Ann have repeatedly rebuffed such calls. In a primary debate in January, Romney said he’d paid “all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more.”

So what do we know about how he avoided that extra dollar? For an overview of the questions surrounding Romney’s tax strategies, see Vanity Fair’s comprehensive story “Where the Money Lives,” and this commentary from tax lawyers Edward Kleinbard and Peter Canellos. We’ve also rounded up the best reporting on the central controversies.


What’s Been Disclosed?

Romney has released his 2010 tax return, and an estimate of his 2011 return. (He filed for an extension this year and has said he’ll release the full returns when they are finished. The deadline is Oct. 15). We also have 2010 returns for blind trusts for Romney, Ann, and their family, and the family foundation, as well as financial disclosures from his campaigns, beginning with his 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial run.

Mitt Romney said recently that he has paid “at least 13 percent” in federal income taxes each year, but the campaign won’t go into more detail (for a closer look at his 13.9 percent rate in 2010, see our previous reading guide). Ironically, it was Mitt Romney’s father, George, who set the precedent for the kind of comprehensive disclosure that’s standard for most presidential candidates: During his 1967 bid for the Republican nomination, he released 12 years of tax returns, saying that just one or two seen in isolation could be misleading.


Romney’s Bain Career

Buyout Profits Keep Flowing to Romney, New York Times, December 2011 The New York Times laid out how Romney’s generous retirement deal let him keep investing in new Bain funds for 10 years after he left the company in 1999. He got a share of the profits from 22 funds, as Bain’s assets grew 20-fold. (If you’re hazy on how private equity, or leveraged buyout firms, as they used to be commonly known, actually work, see Marketplace’s plain-speak explanation.) Such retirement deals aren’t without their critics among tax professionals. Lee Sheppard of the blog Tax Notes argues that compensation packages should not include capital gains from funds which the individual had nothing to do with.

Romney using ethics exception to limit disclosure of Bain holdings, Washington Post, April 2012 Candidates for federal office are required to disclose financial holdings, but since the 2004 election, the Office of Government Ethics has let candidates postpone reporting underlying assets in accounts that are bound by confidentiality agreements. That applies to most of Romney’s Bain assets. It’s not the first time a presidential candidate has used the confidentiality exception — in fact, in 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry didn’t report the underlying assets held in a Bain Capital fund by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. But the size and portion of Romney’s assets that are shielded are unprecedented, according to the Post.

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • shonti

    If I were doing investigative work, the very first question I would ask. Is Romney paying his 10% to his church on his hidden money? Check it out. I think not. He might have more than one reason for hiding his money. Not just U.S. taxes. Maybe the 10% to his church?

    • neece00

      and the interesting thing about his 10% that goes to his church (if that is really what happens) this only goes to mega temples all over the world and to his own people. You will not see any of it going to the homeless shelter unless it is a mormon homeless shelter.

  • There’s talk that Ryan wants Romney’s tax duty dropped down to 1%.

    We don’t like the 1% in terms of wealth retention, folks, these smug jerks actually only paying 1% in taxes makes the whole thing far, far more repugnant.

  • alboy5

    Romney is not perfect, but he isn’t antiAmerican like Balack Obama. Romney is his given name, where as Balack Obama is his Muslim name.

    • johninPCFL

      Good thing you included your age in you handle. Or is that your IQ?

    • SaneJane

      What? His name was given to him by his parents just the way most of us got our names.


    • Aren’t you supposed to be in school?

      • Joseph Hemphill

        riding in the short bus ??

    • grammyjill

      and his name is BARAK. At least get that right in your insults. And the man was raised evangelical.

  • middleclasstaxpayer

    Liberals are hallucinating about OTHER PEOPLES taxes?? In the USA, it’s easier to get away with murder (ask Al Capone) than to cheat on your taxes. Especially when you are a public figure, it is IMPOSSIBLE to avoid your fair share of taxes. NOTE TO LIBERALS: Focus on our real problem…JOBS< JOBS< JOBS! Don't try to change the subject…fact is Mr Obama has spent NOT ONE DAY with his "jobs council" in LAST SIX MONTHS! Why? He's TOO BUSY CAMPAIGNING to be concerned about our jobless workers. And, by allowing over ONE MILLION undocument workers INTO OUR WORKFORCE, Obama has actually MADE MATTERS WORSE, as now there are MORE WORKERS COMPETING for the same few jobs????

    • SaneJane

      No one is claiming he “cheated” on his taxes. If you don’t understand the question putting forward an answer is ridiculous.

    • johninPCFL

      Yeah, all those abortion bills the teabaggers have been passing weekly are all about jobs. Well, jobs for midwives, I guess.

      Mitt talks about private sector experience as important for his qualifications. Since the president directly creates a couple of dozen jobs, this seems specious. But let’s go with that. We know that Bain collected half a billion dollars in buyout and management fees under Romney’s watch. How many jobs were created? Between the success stories like Staples and the failures like GST steel, the net looks like zero.

      So now, does that experience of collecting money for structuring the buying and selling of companies (which the president doesn’t do) that ultimately results in no net change in employment numbers have a bearing on his qualifications? I guess it does show a willingness to make hard, unpopular choices.

      • middleclasstaxpayer

        Fact is, our leader has NEVER held a private-sector job in his life. He’s a bureaucrat, but this adds NOTHING to the economy, only TAKES AWAY from our economy. But on 2nd thought, my earlier comment about it being impossible to avoid taxes may not be 100% correct. Wasn’t it TIMOTHY GEITNER, an Obama apointee, who FAILED TO PAY HIS TAXES for YEARS??? I’m not even sure he EVER PAID UP for what he failed to pay earlier????? Great crew our commander in cheif has advising him.

        • johninPCFL

          The same Geithner that work as New York fed chief for GWB? Yeah that’s the guy. While working for GWB he didn’t pay all of his taxes, then caught them up when he STARTED working for Obama.

          • middleclasstaxpayer

            CORRECTION. He ONLY PAID UP when he was CAUGHT! Just like all the other liberals (Rangle comes to mind), they only pay (RELUCTANTLY) when caught, and make stupid excuses to boot….Rangle: “I didn’t know it was taxable” Sure!

        • grammyjill

          Our president use to be a lawyer and a college professor. On the other hand the bonly job Ryan has had besides congress is a newspaper route as a child.

          • middleclasstaxpayer

            Your comment brings to mind a very mysterious situation: WHY would anyone who worked hard enough to earn a law degree & law license RELINQUISH his or her law license??? I can’t think of ANY reason, but apparently BOTH Obamas HAVE, as they BOTH relinquished their respective law licenses in Illinois. Rumor among fellow lawyers is that the ONLY reason someone does give up his or her law license is because they were probably in line to LOSE IT for a serious reason. I am told even falsifying ones’ license application in a material way would be grounds for revocation. Education? Citizenship? Any ideas?

          • grammyjill

            From what I heard (no proof) they had to give them up while he was in public office. Clinton also gave his up when he went into public office. Maybe it’s in the rules somewhere. I think I’ll check that out. Something to do when I’m bored. If I find out, I’ll let you know.

          • Joseph Hemphill

            not true, easily debunked on fact check, snopes, etc….

          • middleclasstaxpayer

            I went to the “proof” sites you recommended..their answers seemed compelling until I checked further. Both sites are funded & run by liberals. Worse yet, when I clicked on each link purported to verify the previous statement, the “links” went nowhere??? Maybe that’s just a fluke, and maybe most folks wouldn’t have gone to the trouble I did to verify your statements, but at this point the questions about the circumstances of the suspension of Obama’s law license remain open. And I am wondering why, when he answered the question PREVIOUS NAMES, he answered “NONE” (what happened to Barry Sotero?????) Sorry for the bad news!

          • grammyjill

            I checked that out like I said I would. Same as with any lawyer who goes into public office. Have to give up lience while serving, avoid conflict of interest. When they leave, they have to apply to get lience back if they wish to go back to the law. Clinton didn’t. If either was anything else, ie: teacher, doctor, baker could have kept right on doing the job, as in Jill Biden, still teaching.

    • There are enough loopholes and deductions available to people like Romney to allows them to pay little or nothing on tens of millions of dollars earned and, yes, that is perfectly legal. The same goes for his overseas investments; many of them were tax free overseas and in the USA. What is not legal are little things such as insider trading, which is not out of the question. Ask yourself this, why is Mitt Romney so reluctant to release his tax records if everything he did was perfectly legal? Why is a presidential candidate willing to take so much heat and jeopardize his chances of winning if he has not done anything wrong? The only conclusion we can reach is that he is hiding something so bad that it would destroy his candidacy and, perhaps, end up serving time like Martha Stewart did.

    • grammyjill

      The american jobs act has been in the House since June 7th. You want to know where the jobs are, ask the republicans that won’t pass it.

    • Joseph Hemphill

      like the republicans “laser like focus” on JOBS,JOBS,JOBS….. I mean abortion….. since the mid-terms, what a bunch of hypocrites, and that includes you middleclasstaxcheater so bent on your irreverent worship of mite robme and the almighty dollar.

  • The only thing that is not a mystery, when it comes to Mitt and taxes, is his tax plan and his proposal to end the mortgage deduction and college expense deduction. I can’t think of anything that illustrates his contempt for the middle class better than that proposal. No wonder the GOP is no longer talking about it or Ryan’s MEDICARE dismantling plan.

    • You nailed it on the head Dominick. In addition, where is Romney’s budget. About 2 weeks ago,he stated on tv that he had his own plan.Well, where is it?Romney likes to talk about Obama’s budget with specific facts and this is because the President has a budget. Romney does not want the American people to see what programs he plans to cut because he wants their votes. Ryan stated that they will start a plan after January,2013. They both are so cocky,they act like whites in the pre and post civil war days. For example,”Just get that n—-r out of office and put white people back in there like it is suppose to be and trust me!”

  • My gut says, “Slime, slime and more slime!”……
    I predict in a few months there will be a ‘Romney Tax Reveal’ that will rock our country!
    Even if you support this man you know deep down that what he is doing (hiding money offshore and not paying taxes) is morally wrong. Good luck sleeping at night!

  • I’m a democrat in Oklahoma.I respect Romney for making money even if it meant sending jobs overseas for his company,it was his company! Also, the tax laws allowed Romney to have tax shelters so he did not brake any laws there. However, when you run for the President of the United States you must have presidental characteristics and talk and act like a president.This is how you get respect and votes,not by saying and acting like a spoiled little white kid.

  • He raped Americans and put the money in the Cayman Islands, just like his yacht~!

  • ayayaboy

    The problem with Romney is tax dodging, flip-flopping and outsourcing jobs. The problem with Ryan is that “Ryan is a big liar.” That’s pretty dangerous.

  • If I’m going to vote for a pesident, I needto know how much love he has for his country. If Mitt Romney so love this country as he claimed, Let him show us how much tax he has been paying, simple as that, DO NOT GIVE ME TASTELESS SOUP AND TELL ME TO DRINK IT , AND FLAVOR WILL BE ADDED LATER. Just doesn’t work.