We DON’T Actually Have ANY of Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns

We have learned this day that Mitt Romney is running a “just trust me” campaign:

Romney advisers confirm it: We’re running a ‘just trust me’ campaign
Greg Sargent / Washington Post:

I noted here yesterday that Mitt Romney is running a “just trust me” campaign, in which his lack of specificity and transparency extends far beyond just his tax returns, to his bundlers and to large swaths of his policy proposals. Intriguingly enough, Romney advisers have now come right out and confirmed the thinking behind this strategy….

Some people think this is a turkey, seemingly

Yesterday, famously, Mitt claimed that he’d never paid under 13%  in “taxes”  (he never says “federal income”), but that you’d have to trust him.

I prepare taxes for part of the year for a living. Regular readers may recall this, and how many stories I’ve broken about the secrets revealed in the “charitable” tax returns of various Koch-related entities, in a strange form of tax-return investigative reporting that may well be unique in the pigeonholes of reportage.

So afford me some small credibility what I say: When you hear that “We’ve got only two years of Romney’s tax returns,” that’s at best half true, and, actually, almost entirely false.

What?

We only have “one” official tax return. But that isn’t, strictly and actually speaking, true.

Why is this? (And this relates to the as-yet unreleased 2011 tax return that will only come out in October.)

Because you can AMEND your tax returns. If you come across new information that either raises or lowers your tax, within a specified time period, you can AMEND your federal tax return without penalty. If you owe money, pay it. If you are OWED money, the IRS will repay you, with interest. (Of course, the IRS being the IRS, you then have to declare that check as “interest income” on the front page of your 1040.)

Now, we KNOW that Mitt has already done this in 2002, when he was INITIALLY involved in a tax returns stonewalling because of his claimed residency status meant that he had not met the Massachusetts Constitution’s requirement of seven years’ prior residency to run for governor. That is the oldest Constitition in the world, by the by, authored by John Adams, and the model for the US Constitution, even though Adams was the Ambassador to the Court of St. James at the time of the convention.

Romney AMENDED his Utah and Massachusetts tax returns, switching “resident” and “out of state” and paying the difference. Voila! Romney successfully skirted the issue of residency and was adjudged using the Kafkaesque logick of political boards to be a “resident” of Massachusetts, quite contrary to the evidence of people’s own eyes and ears, and, as we all know, was elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (Or you may not know about it, since he is nearly as reticent to discuss his public service record as he is to release his taxes.)

Now, we can rest assured that the tax return we DO have was prepared to carefully present the best face to what the PUBLIC would see. There is nothing to stop Romney from amending THAT tax return after the election. Ditto the supposed 2011 tax return which will be released just before the election.

Knowing that, what would YOU do? Tell the embarrassing or uncomfortable truth? Or elide and evade and appear as up and up as possible, and then, after the election, “discover” your mistake and amend that return. CONFIDENTIALLY.

No one, by law, outside of the IRS custodial chain, is allowed to know that Mitt has amended his last two years of tax returns.

Thus, we have zero confidence in the truthfulness of the “real” tax return we have and the fictional “tax return” we’re supposedly going to get.

Now, I want you to read this to understand that Mitt could well have “paid” 13.9% tax rate in the year he’s released (the only number we have from the only year we have), and then can amend his return within three years and get a nice refund, lowering his actual tax rate anywhere from 13.8% to 0.0% — all perfectly legally and confidentially.

And if there’s anything Mitt likes it’s to only pay his “LEGAL” tax and confidentiality.

It seems a natural. Here it is, from the IRS itself:

Time Limit on Refunds

There is a statute of limitations on refunds being claimed on amended returns. In general, if a refund is expected on an amended return, taxpayers must file the return within three years from the due date of the original return, or within two years after the date they paid the tax, whichever is later.

Returns filed before the due date (without regard to extensions) are considered filed on the due date.

EXAMPLE:

Robert’s 2008 tax return was due April 15, 2009. He filed it on March 20, 2009. He wants to amend his 2008 return, expecting the correction to result in a refund. If he gets it postmarked on or before April17, 2012, it will be within the three-year limit and the return will be accepted. But if the amended 2008 return is postmarked after April 17, 2012, it will fall outside the three-year period and he will not receive the refund.

Thus, we have precisely ZERO YEARS of Mitt’s actual tax returns.

We merely have what Mitt’s accountants thought would pass muster (i.e. not trigger an audit) AND take advantage of the general public’s (and media’s, since this article was written AFTER hearing reporter after reporter complain that all this tax stuff is too arcane and difficult to understand) credulity. In other words, it is perfectly legal for Romney to file  legal fictions and retroactively “amend” them into legal facts AFTER the election.

Got that?

He’s done it once before that we know about.

Perhaps this is what really peeved old Mitty: ABC’s Brian Ross tracked one of the “BAIN CAPITAL ACCOUNT” lines on his 2010 tax return to a private postbox on a wall in the Cayman Islands. Take a look at the video, and perhaps you’ll understand why the Romney campaign is upset that this seemingly innocuous line on endless single-spaced securities listings was ferreted out. Here is the video:

YouTube Preview Image

YouTube of ABC’s Investigative report (4 min, approx.)

It seems obvious to the casual observer that Mitt and his wife have something they DESPERATELY want to hide in those tax returns.

Well, it stands to reason that they’re hiding them in the “two years of tax returns” that newsies claim we already have.

We don’t have ONE year of tax returns that we can trust.

Courage.

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A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, an honorary Texan, Clown (ditto) and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog

Author: HART WILLIAMS, Guest Voice Columnist

A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog, His Vorpal Sword (no spaces) dot com.

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