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Does Mitt Romney Have Something To Hide?

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"Does Mitt Romney Have Something To Hide?"

Show Us The Tax Returns!

Mitt Romney does not care for President Obama’s so-called Buffett Rule — the idea that millionaires like Mitt Romney shouldn’t be able to use loopholes to pay a lower tax rates than many middle class Americans.

ThinkProgress’ Pat Garofalo explains why Romney’s strong opposition to the Buffett Rule presents a few problems:

Part of Romney’s problem in opposing the Buffett rule is that it likely applies to him. An analysis of publicly available data by Citizens for Tax Justice found that Romney’s tax rate is likely 14 percent, far below the statutory rate for someone who earns as much as he does.

You would think if Mitt Romney was not in fact paying a lower tax rate than many middle class Americans, he’d be eager to release his tax returns to prove otherwise.  Not quite:

The financial disclosure forms Romney filed during his 2008 presidential run showed the former Massachusetts governor was worth as much $250 million at the time. But Romney has never released any tax returns — neither during his campaigns for president and Senate nor during his time as governor — and would not commit to doing so this time around.

As with all things Mitt Romney, he’s of course been on all sides of the tax return issue. Here’s the rundown.

Nothing to Hide, You Say?

Back in 1994 when he was running against the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Romney pressured Kennedy to release his tax returns:

With the tax-filing deadline looming, Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney yesterday challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to disclose his state and federal taxes to prove he has ‘nothing to hide,’ but another GOP rival, John R. Lakian, called Romney’s move ‘bush league’ ‘It’s time the biggest-taxing senator in Washington shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes,” said Romney, a business consultant from Belmont. Romney said he would disclose his own state and federal taxes for the last three years ‘on the very day that Kennedy turns over his taxes for public scrutiny.’ [Boston Globe, 4/19/94]

Another Run at Hypocrisy in 2002

During his campaign for governor in 2002, Romney even called on his opponent’s husband (who filed separately from his opponent) to release his tax returns:

At the moment, however, Mr. Romney is trying to have it both ways. On April 16, he lambasted his most likely Democratic foe, Shannon O’Brien who discloses her tax return for filing separately from her husband who does not. The husband is Emmett Hayes, a former state representative and until recently a Beacon Hill lobbyist. One of Mr. Hayes’s clients was Enron. Mr. Romney is in high dudgeon that Ms. O’Brien hasn’t released Mr. Hayes’s tax forms with her own. ‘Her hands aren’t clean!’ he says…If Romney & Healey, who are candidates, won’t release their tax forms, they have no business demanding that Mr. Hayes, who isn’t a candidate, do so. [Editorial, Providence Journal Bulletin, 5/9/02]

One small problem with this is that Romney refused to release his own tax returns during the 2002 campaign:

Romney, who has pumped nearly $ 5 million of his own money into the campaign, has refused repeated requests by O’Brien’s campaign to follow her lead and make his income tax returns public. [Salt Lake Tribune, 11/4/02]

Romney Refusal v. Obama Openness

Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns during any of his campaigns stands in marked contrast to President Obama, who released his tax returns when running for Congress in 2004, Senate in 2006, as a candidate for president in 2007 and 2008, and, of course, during his years as president.

IN ONE SENTENCE: If Mitt Romney has “nothing to hide,” then he should immediately release his tax returns so middle class Americans can find out whether or not millionaire Mitt is using tax loopholes to pay a lower tax rate than they are.

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