CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Earlier this week, an investigation revealed that Mitt Romney holds millons of dollars in accounts located in the Cayman Islands. According to the ABC News report, Romney currently has as much as $33 million stored in accounts in the Caymans, “a notorious Caribbean tax haven.”
The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign maintains these funds do not directly dodge taxes, but this claim is difficult to verify because Romney refuses to release any of his tax returns until April.
Following last night’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, ThinkProgress asked former state Attorney General Henry McMaster (R) about the matter. Though McMaster was skeptical that the issue would sway many South Carolina primary votes, he plainly laid out why Romney would utilize such offshore tax havens. Said McMaster, “I mean, the man’s got so much money, I don’t know where he’s going to put it all.”
KEYES: Do you think it’s going to matter to folks, this story that Mitt Romney has put some of his money in offshore accounts, like in the Cayman Islands?
McMASTER: It doesn’t make any difference to most people. I mean, the man’s got so much money, I don’t know where he’s going to put it all. I guess there are reasons to put it in other banks and other places. I wish I had enough to have to worry about that kind of stuff. There may be some legitimate (inaudible) turned up in there, but we’re delving into personal stuff that I don’t think is central to the campaign.
Indeed, most estimate that Romney’s personal fortune is worth approximately $250 million. Despite his vast wealth, Romney’s investments have allowed him to pay a tax rate of just 15 percent, well below the top income tax rate of 35 percent.
Not all GOP officials have been as candid about Romney’s enormous wealth. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told ThinkProgress earlier this month that there is no merit to the idea that Romney is part of the 1 percent.
In addition to those funds Romney has personally invested in, his former private equity firm, Bain Capital, set up 138 separate funds in the Cayman Islands. Jack Blum, a lawyer with expertise on offshore banking, told ABC News that Romney’s “personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system.”