Willard Mitt Romney is quite convinced that the contents of a person’s tax returns are defining evidence of their character. He is equally insistent that he does not want anyone to see his own. It would be remiss to assume there is no connection between the two beliefs.
Although I agree that Romney’s elitism and apparent failure to understand basic statistics about the economy are fair game, it’s also the case that gaffe-fixation is a lousy way to run an election. The tax return question seems more substantive to me: Just what is Mitt Romney hiding? Why are the Romneys adamant that they will not release the traditional number of annual tax returns?
The three most plausible guesses I’ve heard so far are:
- Romney did a stint as a 47%er — there’s a year in which he paid either almost no tax at all, or no income tax at all. Since he had years with no salary but large capital gains, this seems highly likely — but is it nearly embarrassing enough to take all this grief for non-disclosure?
- Romney had some run-in with the IRS and had to pay back taxes for participation in some complex tax avoidance scheme even the IRS couldn’t stomach. Not an uncommon event for people who engage in high-stakes tax avoidance behavior, but it doesn’t look good — especially if it involved participation in a scandal with a name like Son of Boss.
- In some year Romney’s residence for tax purposes differed from his residence for electoral purposes — highly embarrassing and probably illegal. Just heard this one recently, don’t know what to make of it.
Got any other good ones?