Tax season is upon us all once more but every 4 years or so tax filings become a bit more sensationalized when presidential candidates open theirs up for public scrutiny. This year the hoopla has ballooned a bit beyond the norm. For the second time during this run for president Mitt Romney is delaying the release of his tax returns.
Earlier in the GOP primaries Romney attempted to forestall his previous filings until March of this year, when he would have presumptively finalized his nomination. After sewing up the GOP nomination, what impact could his tax returns possibly have then? Eventually, he succumbed to his opposition’s pressure and the public found out why he wanted to wait. They fell right in line with 99% vs 1% narrative. Romney was shown to sit squarely in the 1% column, living off millions in investments from his time with Bain Capital and paying a significantly lower tax rate than Obama and the vast majority of the country’s middle classes. The numbers highlighted the “out-of-touch”, “one of them” message Romney wishes to distance himself from.
Fast forward to April 2012, Mitt has all but officially nailed down his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate and once again he is employing a delay tactic to avoid releasing his returns for last year until the last moment. On the very day the Obama campaign stepped up the pressure on the Romney camp to release those figures, he filed a 6 month extension. One may ask why would Mitt Romney need an extension from the IRS?
Officially, the IRS does not require a reason which makes it a popular option for many Americans. A perusal of various tax advice websites provided a few consistent reasons for requesting such an extension;
More personal attention from one’s accountant after the height of the busy tax season.
It may reduce the chances of an audit.
More time to put paperwork in order, and
To take advantage of any changes in tax rules or new deductions.
These may be practical reasons for the average individual or small business but its doubtful a millionaire of Mitt Romney’s stature would be subjected to any of these problems. It’s doubtful he has to bring a shoebox full of receipts down to the local H&R Block in an attempt to squeeze every last deduction dollar out of the tax code. The likely reality is Romney has his own person accountants on retainer who place his business at the top of their list of priorities. They would be responsible for maintaining organized records, can handle any audits which may come about and know full well what new tax benefits are on their way down the pike.
So what could possibly be the motivation behind Mr. Romney’s extension request?
Nothing but political. A spokeswoman stated Governor Romney will file his returns “sometime within the next six months”, a month before the November elections and after many people would have filed early ballots. Romney is hoping to elude a second media roundabout scrutinizing his finances. He is desperate to avoid another public perception battle over his relation to the vilified 1%, especially as warmer temperatures are sure to bring the Occupy Movement and income inequality back into the spotlight. While this strategy holds the inevitable questions about his financial dealings at bay, in the public’s eye this attempt to circumvent the long held tradition of releasing candidates’ tax returns will be seen as an effort to hide something from this country’s voters.