The clamor for Mitt Romney to release a decade or so of tax returns continues to grow louder—and with very good reason.Mitt Romney is the only President or Presidential candidate in the past couple of decades to refuse to release his tax returns.
He’s also the only candidate for President in the Romney family to refuse to release his tax returns (Romney’s dad, George Romney, released 12 years of returns—and said that releasing just one year’s return, as Romney has done, is meaningless).
Romney is also a candidate for President about which there are the completely justifiable questions and concerns about his earnings and tax payments.
So it’s no surprise that America is concluding that Romney is not releasing his tax returns because he has something to hide.
And, the truth is… of course he has something to hide.
Even if Romney paid every dime of taxes that he owed, he made eye-popping amounts of money—earnings that presumably put him in the 0.001% of Americans, which he appears not to want to remind people of. Romney also undoubtedly did his damnedest to avoid paying a single penny of taxes more than he had to—and was able to afford the best expertise available on how to do that. There is nothing wrong with that—if Mitt Romney’s critics were as rich as Mitt Romney, they’d do the same thing. But Mitt Romney presumably knows that those tax-avoidance strategies were 1) very successful, and 2) won’t look good to people who pay higher tax rates—namely most Americans. And Mitt Romney also wants to hide how rich he is and how much money he has made. Because, among other things, those facts will make his desire to further cut taxes for rich Americans look even more self-serving that it already seems to be.
So, yes, Mitt Romney has something to hide—even if he paid every dime of taxes that he owed.
But he should still release his returns.
Well, first, for these very good reasons, which I enumerated in more detail last week:
- It has become standard practice for Presidents and Presidential candidates to release their returns.
- Everyone already knows Mitt Romney is loaded, and he says he has paid all of his taxes, so he should have nothing to hide.
- Mitt Romney says taxes on rich people are too high, so if he releases his returns, he can use himself as a prime example of the harm that this causes the economy.
- Romney says that instead of resenting him for being a member of the 0.01%, Americans should be be proud of and emulate his success.
- Romney’s own father released a dozen years of tax returns and said that one year is meaningless.
And there’s another very good reason:
It’s the right thing to do.
Mitt Romney is campaigning to become President of the United States. Americans have every right to want to know how he made his money and and how he manages it, as well as what sorts of taxes he pays. Regardless of who you’re rooting for in the campaign, it is far better that this information come out now, rather than later (and it will come out). Given that Mitt Romney is campaigning on financial expertise and economic know-how, these questions are even more relevant for him than for any other candidate, which Mitt Romney obviously knows. And if Mitt Romney persists in refusing to release the returns, this issue really will become a distraction.
The Mormon Church advocates doing the right thing without delay regardless of the cost.
Mitt Romney should stop denouncing people asking perfectly reasonable questions and, instead, follow that advice.
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