What Tax Returns Should Romney Release – The Obvious Answer
Okay, for some of you the obvious answer is “nothing,” and for some of you the obvious answer is “12 years.” You’re both wrong.
Democrats constantly point to Romney’s father releasing 12 years of taxes as the obvious comparison. It’s not. Certainly it’s a reasonable comparison, and clearly an effective cudgel, but Mitt’s much wealthier than his father was and his finances are much more complicated.
Some Republicans point to John McCain, who released only two years of tax returns. But he provided public financial disclosures as a member of Congress; not the same thing, but much more than we have from Romney.
It seems the most comparable candidate was John Kerry, whose wife Teresa Heinz is worth about 57 bazillion dollars. Kerry released only two years of tax returns, Republicans say, but Kerry had filed 18 years of financial disclosure forms as a U.S. Senator. Democrats say this was an enormous level of disclosure, but it wasn’t; the Kerrys filed their taxes separately, and the vast majority of their income was Teresa’s.
Republicans raised quite a fuss over this in 2004 (objections which now ring hollow). But since Teresa Heinz Kerry never released much information, releasing only one year’s 1040 form before the election, she is the perfect benchmark for Romney.
If the Romneys won’t release their returns because they don’t want to provide hundreds of pages per year of information that would then be combed through for embarrassing nuggets — quite a reasonable concern, given the dressage horse kerfuffle — they have a clear and simple solution, following Heinz’s precedent: release a bunch of years’ worth of 1040s.
This would provide sufficient detail to satisfy any reasonable undecided voter, would be more than John Kerry provided about the vast majority of his wealth, and would not provide reams of potentially trouble-making data.
Unless. If the Romneys had sufficient capital losses in 2009 to bring their effective tax rate for that year to zero, or near zero, releasing the 1040 would make this plain and the fallout would likely be damaging.
Is there any other reason why Romney shouldn’t release his 1040s?