If you were going to vote for Mitt Romney and you learned he didn’t pay federal income tax– because he didn’t owe– would that change your vote?
What if you are in the middle. What if you are one of the 4% who will likely decide the election. You don’t really like President Obama, but you are not sold on Romney, then you learn Romney didn’t owe/pay income tax in 2009, would that pay a role in your decision making?
A multi-millionaire running for president not paying income taxes, when taxes generally and the tax burden of the wealthy specifically are big issues, would prove to be a game changer. Maybe Mitt Romney is so afraid of showing his tax returns because he didn’t pay anything in 2009? And he’s willing to get hell for his failure to show his tax returns because the hell he would take would be far worse when he shows that he didn’t owe tax.
What we know is Romney earned $21.7 million and $20.9 million in 2010 and 2011 respectively; that was all income from investments, so he paid 15% tax rate. What if Romney’s investment losses were substantial enough that he paid/owed no federal taxes in 2009?
Would that piss you off?
It has happened before. Remember Alexi Giannoulias? He was the Illinois Democratic nominee for United States Senate in 2010 against Mark Kirk. In July 2010, Alexi Giannoulias disclosed he did not pay income taxes in 2009 due to big losses in his family’s business, Broadway Bank. As a matter of fact, Giannoulias stood to gain $30,000 in refunds, but donated that money to charity (giving him a deduction for 2010, which he probably took after not being in the public eye by running for office).
It has happened before.
So did Romney just not pay taxes? Why else would he not want to disclose his tax returns? Did he earn much of his wealth in 2007-2009, when the market was tanking and his severance package with Bain Capital was ending? Did he earn nine figures and he thinks showing $120 million in income for one year will hurt him more than not showing them? That’s the only other reasonable alternative.
By extrapolation, Americans must know that to gain $20 million on investments, he has to have at least $250 million in the bank– and likely more. But I suppose forcing a lazy American electorate to extrapolate versus actually seeing it on a tax return are two different things.
The other alternative was that he hid money or did something equally untoward– there was the IRS amnesty program in 2009 for fraudulent nondisclosure of offshore income. But I doubt Romney has anything like that to hide because he knew then he was a candidate for president in 2012– so he wouldn’t do something stupid on his tax returns in 2009.
If I had to bet on it, Mitt Romney just didn’t pay taxes in 2009 due to investment losses. That fact alone could lose him the election. That’s why it makes more sense to take heat for not showing his tax returns rather than showing a return where a multi-millionaire paid no tax.
And that’s why he can’t get a pass for his nondisclosure.