I know what's in Mitt Romney's missing tax returns!
At least, I think I do. But I've got some damned good evidence to back me up.
Why is this important? I know some of you out there think that Mitt's tax returns don't really matter. But since tax rates of the rich are a central issue in this presidential election, concealing the amount paid in recent years is a pretty brazen disregard of common sense on Romney's part! So yes, his tax returns DO matter, and matter a great deal. Since he's campaigning on the platform of looking under the hood of our taxes in order to fix them, then we get to look under the hood of his. It's only fair.
I show you mine, you show me yours.
Do I actually have the returns? Well, no. Of course not. If I had something that big, I'd have gone straight to Wikileaks with it. (We love you, Julien Assange!) But when I'm done detailing the reasons for my free-wheeling speculation, I think you'll agree with me. I therefore ask that you decide for yourself if I'm on to something, or if I'm as full of shit as Harry Reid.
What I do have, and indeed what we all have, are some excellent clues which have been circulating around in the media, and if reporters would only stop chasing their news stories to catch their breath and reflect a moment about what they were reporting, they might just figure out the same thing about them that I did. But that takes quiet contemplation, something which I'm good at and they're clearly not. So here are the clues themselves. They're quite revealing!
1. Mitt's returns violate no tax laws. How do we know? Because Mitt has openly admitted that he's been "audited several times." During an IRS audit, up to three years prior may be investigated. (Any earlier than that, and taxpayers are protected by statutes of limitations.) Those three years are nearly always looked at. Now, "several" could mean anything from four to eleven, unless you're a politician, in which case "several" means a dozen or more. (Standard operational bullshit, you see.) This would be an understandable fib, as Romney does not want to commit a gaff by saying, "The IRS has been breathing down my neck for years," or something to that effect, because that would send the message that the feds are suspicious of him (which perhaps they are). But it's safe to say that he's been audited frequently enough for the IRS to have gone through every year of his tax returns with a fine-toothed comb. They've found no malfeasance so far, and that's good enough evidence that he has not broken any laws in terms of what he's owed. Oh, Mitt has lied his ass of to the general public! Make no mistake! But he has not lied overtly to Uncle Sam.
2. Mitt has paid taxes every year. We certainly don't know this just because he said so! We know this because not paying taxes in a given year is simply not very damaging. Take Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, for example. He went most years without paying any taxes. But this didn't hurt him politically, because he gave so much money to charity that it drove his taxes down to zero. All Mitt would have to say is, "Sure, I paid no taxes in 20-whenever, but that's because I gave umpteen million dollars to Charity X that year!" Instead of being demonized for paying no taxes, he would be praised for being generous in privilege. It worked for Abele, and it would work for Mitt. So, if paying zero dollars in taxes isn't politically damaging, that can't be the big scandal lurking in them. Harry Reid's bullshit claim that Mitt paid zero taxes is therefore nothing more than an obvious attempt at forcing Mitt to release his taxes with a wild accusation (which didn't work).
3. Whatever Mitt is hiding, it would cause more political damage than not releasing them. This is the one clue that everybody, no matter how dim, has been able to figure out. Every politician has "the conversation" with his legal advisers, detailing all the dirty, little secrets which might leak out during a political campaign. Whatever is in those tax returns, they decided a long time ago that fallout from keeping them private was far less damaging than the fallout from releasing them. Whatever it is, it's big!
4. Mitt has admitted his baseline tax rate: 13%. After accusations were made that he might have paid less than that in a given recent year, he said he went back and looked, and paid at least 13% every year. We can believe this, not because Mitt is trustworthy, but because that was committing a huge gaff in tacitly admitting that he paid roughly that low amount year after year!
5. Mitt has accidentally indicated the amount he pays to charity: about 10%. In the same speech in which he admitted to paying no less than 13% every year, he made the off-the-cuff remark, "If you include what I pay to charity, it's more than 20%. Well, more than 20%, let's say 21, would mean 8% at least. But 10% is a nice, round figure, and is the standard amount for tithing. (We'll get back to that, later.)
6. Mitt has released his 2010 tax return. His 2011 return is coming in mid-October (which is a HUGE mistake, because it provides President Obama with an October surprise). What's in them is damaging enough, particularly his having a tax-deferred IRA which is worth at least $21 million, and may be worth as much as $100 million. With tax laws which prevent contributions of more than $6,000 per year, how on earth did he get an IRA that big?
Well, with these six clues, we've gone a long way in establishing what sort of things might be in those tax returns. By using the simple logic of elimination, there are only a few other things left which they might be. My contention is that it is all of them. Here they are:
1. Mitt Romney's returns give the appearance that he used his IRA to shield millions in gains from insider trading. Remember that I pointed out that the IRS did not find anything contrary to tax law in Mitt's tax returns and audits. I also don't think that Mitt necessarily broke any laws. But just how did he get an IRA worth at least $21 million? Here's the thing: the IRS and the SEC are different entities. And the SEC has no three-year statute of limitations! What the IRS might have missed might get noticed by the SEC, if the tax returns were made public. You see, Bain Capital used a different kind of IRA, known as an SEP IRA, which allows a maximum contribution of $30,000 instead of the usual $6,000. That would have given Mitt $450,000 over the time he spent at Bain. Invest that money only in big-winning stocks, and you might just get an Individual Retirement Account as high as $21 million or more. Maybe Mitt might have been a smart enough investment guru to pull that off. But boy, it would sure look suspicious! If the SEC saw this in Mitt Romney's tax returns and decided to launch an investigation during his presidential run, it would absolutely guarantee a double-digit defeat. It would not matter if he actually engaged in insider trading or not! The suspicion alone would destroy him. And remember, the SEC put the collar on Martha Stewart for far less! Small wonder that Romney is concealing his tax returns!
2. Mitt's tax returns show that he was paid by Bain Capital as its CEO and Board Chairman between 2001 and 2003. Remember the media hoopla that resulted when it was revealed that Bain Capital's records showed Mitt Romney was still heading Bain Capital while he was busy running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City? He claimed that he was not running Bain during that time, and so was not responsible for the large number of jobs it shipped overseas in that period. Mitt's retirement from Bain was retroactive to 2001, this is true. But Mitt's tax returns would prove that he was also paid by Bain Capital during '02 and '03. If Mitt took the money, then he took at least some of the responsibility for the lost jobs! Period! He may still claim that he wasn't running things at that time, but that excuse wouldn't hold water. It simply doesn't matter if the plane was on auto-pilot when it crashed. The captain is still responsible!
3. Mitt's tax returns show extensive use of tax havens and loopholes. We already know this. But Mitt is campaigning on the platform of low taxes and a balanced budget. How will he balance the budget without raising taxes? Why, by closing loopholes, of course! Mitt's earlier tax returns will show such extensive use of such loopholes that it will make his wealthy donors balk. "Let's get this straight," they might say. "You get to have used all these tax loopholes yourself, but WE don't get to?!" Mitt might understandably not want to throw a spotlight onto that aspect of his campaign.
4. His tax returns show that all his charitable contributions go to the Mormon Church. On several occasions, Mitt and his wife have proudly declared that they regularly tithe their 10%. That may sound good to an evangelical Christian, until they see, written clearly in those infamous tax returns, that all that money went to Salt Lake City. Mitt doesn't hide his Mormonism, but he certainly doesn't advertise it, either. And it doesn't help him that his Mormon tithes are probably his only charitable donations, either. Remember the gaff from #5 above? That indicates how much charity he gives. And it's ALL Mormon!
Well, that's it. Of the four things listed, I really think all four are hiding in Mitt's returns, but #1 and #2 are most likely. Certainly, if I'm right, there's no way in heaven or hell that Mitt Romney will ever release his tax returns. Not a chance!
But if I'm wrong, then what the hell is Mitt waiting for? He should release those returns!