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Romney’s Big Tax Dilemma
GOP presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as noted in my previous piece, Mitt’s Big Secret, is probably stonewalling demands that he release his 2009 and earlier IRS filings because they could expose to the public that he availed himself of a 2009 IRS amnesty for those who admitted to earlier felonious hiding of income in Swiss and other foreign tax havens.
Some 30,000 wealthy taxpayers did just that after a whistleblower broke the news that thousands of clients of Swiss Bank UBS were illegally hiding income at the bank, and the IRS sued for the names, while also offering the get-out-of-jail amnesty pass option.
But a reader, Phil Birkhahn, points out in his own blog called Romney the Tax Cheat that the slippery Harvard Law grad Romney may also have fraudulently ducked paying taxes in later — and earlier — years. Either that or he has to man-up and accept managerial responsibility for the obnoxious anti-worker and anti-America policies of his Bain Capital company during the 1999-2002 years, and in later years, during times when he asserting that he played none any but a passive investor role in the venture capital firm.
The problem for Romney is that the IRS taxes income significantly differently and allows far fewer deductions, especially for losses, for people who say they were only passive investors in a company than for those who say they were active in management.
Although Romney, whose whole basic argument to voters is that they should elect him because he is a great businessman who will run America “like a business,” also bizarrely at the same time claims that on “Feb. 1999 I left Bain Capital and all management responsibility,” and says “I had no ongoing activity or involvement,” meaning he was a passive investor in the firm, which he still owned 100% from that date until 2002, He is also listed as late as 2002 as one of the two managing members of Bain Capital in its annual report, and the company’s SEC filings list him as CEO, President and managing director as well as sole owner in 2000 and 2001. That would make him an active investor.
If Romney was in fact an active investor, he would have been able to deduct so many expenses and losses that as a shrewd tax lawyer he probably managed to get his taxes down substantially. But if he was really, as he claims on the stump and in interviews when pressed about Bain’s atrocities, like the exporting of jobs of companies it bought to China and elsewhere, then he was not entitled to those deductions he claimed.
It should be easy to find out, if the man would release his tax forms. (And by the way, even the several hundred pages of 2010 IRS tax forms he did release did not include an important one he had to file, the so called FBAR form that lists any money in foreign bank accounts, interest-bearing or not. That’s a form he had to file because that year he admitted having money in a Swiss bank account, but the form is not in what he released publicly — probably because it includes other non-interest-bearing accounts of the type millionaires use to legally duck out on taxes. That’s not something he wants the public to see.)
So let’s see the Obama campaign, voters at public events, and the so-called mainstream press, start demanding that Romney ‘fess up and show his tax forms — all of them — for not just 2011, but for 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, and hey, how about those forms for 1999-2002, just to straighten out this matter of whether he was an active or passive investor in Bain all these years…or a tax cheat.
At this point, you’d think that some auditor at the IRS would be deciding it might be worth poking around in the candidates tax files too. Tax Fraud doesn’t have a three-year statute of limitations: In 1995 a federal court allowed the IRS to pursue a taxpayer for tax fraud going back 31 years to 1964.
Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia.
COMING IN SEPTEMBER
A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch
Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …