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No, Virginia, Mitt Romney Did Not Pay 14.1% in Taxes in 2011 as He Claims, He Paid Less

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I know this site may seem to be going hard and heavy after Romney in the last 24 hours, but truth be told, it’s just too much fun. And we’ve been shooting at Obama for so long that even this brief interlude of close scrutiny of Romney would not come close to achieving “balance” if “balance” as opposed to trying to get past the PR, were our objective.

Tax maven Lee Sheppard has a new piece up at Forbes on Romney’s tax returns, which I suggest you read in full. It has juicy discussions of Romney’s investments, and the sus-looiking grantor trusts (which appear to be making investments in funds that are taking the tax position that they are engaged in a trade or business, which seems really unusual, to put it politely). And Sheppard looks to have scored a personal win. She flagged Ann Rommey’s horse Raflaca as not credible as a business, and lo and behold:

Expense for Raflaca didn’t show up on the Romneys’ 2011 return. The campaign admitted that the expenses were regarded as personal.

But her discussion at the top really caught my eye. Mitt did not pay 13.7% in taxes in 2011. He paid a lower rate and made a voluntary contribution, which tax law does not consider an extra tax. Yet he’s been characterizing this donation as a tax. This is a misrepresentation.

And if he chooses to, he can change his mind about that voluntary contribution. He has three years to amend his returns. What do you bet he won’t take that gimmie back if he loses his Presidential bid?

This is the germane section of Sheppard’s post:

We are edging closer to understanding why Romney won’t disclose his returns for the last five years. Newsies have been operating on the theory that Romney zeroed out in some years, but that is probably wrong….

The Romneys chose to forgo a 2011 deduction for $1.8 million of their gifts, to get their tax rate up to 14.1 percent. Without that gesture, their tax rate would have been far less than the 13.66 percent Romney stated that he has been paying.

That’s nice, but the tax law does not consider the voluntary payment of more than is owed to be a tax. The tax law considers it to be a contribution to the federal government (section170(b)(1)(A)(v) and (c)(1)).

So the Romneys didn’t pay a 14.1 percent tax rate. The Romneys reported $1,935,708 on line 61 of Form 1040–not all of which was really tax. They paid a lower tax rate plus a $270,000 ($1.8 million times 15 percent) voluntary contribution. What happens to the $1.8 million the Romneys didn’t deduct? They have three years to amend the 2011 return to deduct it.

She also takes a dim view of the PricewaterhouseCoopers letter the Romney camp has circulated in lieu of making customary disclosures:
It’s a self-serving declaration. A trial judge wouldn’t admit it into evidence. We are not required to believe a self-serving declaration from a big accounting firm just because it is a big accounting firm.

Oh, but it’s one of the remaining Big Four accounting firms! There are only four of them left because one was put out of business under threat of criminal indictment for dressing up Enron’s books. Not so long ago, all of the big accounting firms were full-bore tax shelter merchants. Several firms, including PwC, settled tax shelter promotion disputes with the IRS.

But just for fun, let’s parse the wording of that self-serving declaration. The letter states that there were both federal and state taxes owed each year. This takes into account Romney’s admission that he has been audited “from time to time” in the past.

The PwC letter states that the lowest “effective federal personal income tax rate” Romney paid on his adjusted gross income during the years 1990-2009 was 13.66 percent. The statement that he paid some tax in each and every year is consistent with the theory of a successful housing market punt with Paulson. That is, Romney might have paid a little tax on a lot of money made in a very ugly way.

There is no such concept of “effective federal personal income tax rate” in the tax law. PwC invented this concept by dividing adjusted gross income by federal income taxes shown on the returns. Adjusted gross income is not taxable income. Romney’s itemized deductions are fairly high, because of his investment expenses. Although he pays alternative minimum tax, his only add-back is state income taxes.

Moreover, the income from the estimated $100 million in his IRA is completely sheltered from taxation. The IRA is believed to contain special classes of shares of companies acquired by Bain Capital.

The PwC letter says Romney paid an “average annual effective federal rate” on his adjusted gross income of 20.2 percent for the years 1990-2009, during much of which period capital gains rate exceeded 20 percent.

Put more simply, the fact that the PwC letter is so tortured is a smoking gun in and of itself. But since it is above the pay grade of pretty much anyone except tax wonks, it will probably succeed in stumping at least some of the critics.

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76 comments

  1. Don Druid

    I’m no wonk, but it’s easy enough for me to understand.

    Romney donated a bunch of money to the government that he didn’t owe, to give PwC cover to put out this bullshit letter. He’s going around telling everyone that this voluntary donation counts as a tax the government levied on his income, which is a lie.

    He can rescind the donation at any time, and probably will if he loses the race.

    Thus, his tax rate was lower than he’s claiming. Romney is a liar and he’s trying to con us.

    Add to that Romney’s previous statement in an interview that if he ever did this exact thing, for this exact reason, he’d be unfit to be president . . . like we didn’t already know that . . .

    1. JamesW

      Don, if you want to turn into a wonk overnight, please just read the following:

      Retirement Heist, by Ellen Schultz

      The Fine Print, by David Cay Johnston

      Extreme Money, by Satyajit Das

      Battling Wall Street: the Kennedy presidency, by Donald Gibson

    2. Jane Doe

      This isn’t a con.

      This is about the fact the American believes what it wants to believe.

      He and pols like him count on that.

    3. Mark P.

      ’5 Theories Why Romney Won’t Release His Tax Records’

      http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/09/romney-tax-records/

      5) Did Romney Make a “Bet Against America”?: Some facts in support of this theory:

      ‘Romney suspended his presidential campaign on February 7, 2008….

      ‘In 2011, we learned that:

      Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson is upping the ante on his already huge bet on Mitt Romney, opening his palatial Southampton home for a late August fundraiser. [...]

      ‘A big bundler for Romney’s campaign, Paulson—who made billions betting on the decline of the housing bubble -

      ‘And, earlier this year, there was this:

      The Republican candidate has accepted donations from controversial hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson, but Thursday night he made their association more explicit by allowing Paulson to host a fundraiser, Ben Jacobs reports.

      ‘Paulson’s housing market short, of course, is now widely considered one of the greatest trades of all-time….

      ‘But the question needs to be asked: Do Mitt Romney’s unreleased tax returns – in particular for 2008 & 2009 – contain evidence that he “bet against America” via participation in John Paulson’s wildly successful housing market short and/or, more generally, by being short equity markets during the decline? Of course, such behavior is hardly illegal … (but would not) play well with the tens of millions of Americans who were simultaneously being financially devastated. If this is the case, it could explain a lot. For example, Romney could not release, say, 2000 – 2007, withhold 2008 and 2009, and have 2010 and 2011 already in the public domain. That’s clearly a non-starter which would only focus the country on those two years and what might be contained in those two returns. The only alternative – which appears to be the way his campaign is playing it – is to declare everything prior to 2010 off-limits.’

      1. Garrett Pace

        “Mormon doctrine” does not teach that, however some LDS members and leaders have behaved, or seem to have behaved, themselves. From the Book of Mormon, Second Nephi 9:34:

        34 Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.

        That teaching governs my conduct towards others.

          1. Garrett Pace

            For LDS attitudes about honesty, I would refer you to one of the main sources in the article linked by “Amateur Socialist” above, which was a man who spent several decades as a member of the church. At the end of all that he found himself upset and disappointed at the bad examples some of his fellow LDS set (and things he read in church history) in regards to honesty – so much so that he left the church. If the church taught all along that lying was a-ok, surprise or disappointment would be madness.

            Of course we teach and believe that honesty to God and our fellow man is a commandment, even as we all fail to put it into practice as we should. That is what repentance is for.

      2. diptherio

        Enough with the Mormon-bashing, jeesh. Go looking for bizarre metaphysics or financial scammers in any denomination of Christianity (or in any other major religion) and believe you me, you will find plenty. Let’s try to keep the target in sight, i.e. Mit’s tax returns, NOT some religion that you happen to find odd. It really is beneath this site, imho.

        1. Garrett Pace

          Certainly better than not giving it to charity, though I would not feel good about myself if I accumulated riches the way he does.

          I am referring to the question at hand in the thread above, which is his attitude towards honesty. He seems to have a remarkable flexibility with his beliefs.

  2. urjustjealous

    No, what is tortured is your imbecelic argument.

    1) Almost everything in that Forbes articale, and your reguritation, is pure speculation. Your regurgitation of it is just a straw man. You are treating it like those speculations are facts. They are not.

    2) Not make money of of dessage horse? Grand Prix Dressage horse can sell for milltions of dollars. How in the worlkd do you think champion dressage riders and Stables stay in business? (and it is a business–very few of the top rioders come from big money).

    3) He decided not to claim a charity deduction. Big Deal. That his his business. That he may adjust this later is pure sepculation on your part.

    Here he does a good thing, well two really, nad you are acusing him of evil. If had had taken the deduction you would have found a moral falw in that.

    4) You (and Forbes) do not know the tructure of his investnments. Stop pretending that you do or that you are some sort of expert on the matters,. Even an expert cannot validly make these sort of deductions from something as limited as a Tax Schedule

    5) It is absurd to state that he has not made the “customary disculssure”. THe Declosure his political oppentents</i asked for a decidedly uncostomary They hasked for 10 years of returns. They did it for no good or valid reason. Let Omama release his school records, or hisreturns for the last 10 years. Let us have an explaination of just what his wife did to pull down 300k a year at that hospital. Sheesh

    6) But this is really low:

    Oh, but it’s one of the remaining Big Four accounting firms! There are only four of them left because one was put out of business under threat of criminal indictment for dressing up Enron’s books.

    this sort of nonsense marks you as someone not to be taken seriously. It borders on Libel.

    This is the sort of fruadulent, non-sequiter and mis-direction that you would expect out of buffons like Elizabeth Warren.

    (BTW, till cheerleading for the “Shampion of the Conusmer” who fake her ansestry and appears to be pratvciing law without a lincese? THought so.

    Pure sophistry. You are grasping at straws.

    There is no real scandal here at all, it is just the usual Liberal BS.

    What is really shameful is Forbes letting this nonsense pass for journalism.

    Let’s have a look at Daddy’s returns, eh.

    Let’s have a gander at yours.

    This blog get more absurd and childish by the day.

    1. F. Beard

      That he may adjust this later is pure sepculation on your part. urjustjealous

      That’s easily fixed. Let Mitt swear a public oath that he will not do do.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      I am offended by the vulgar usage of BS. As for the rest of your post, where is Jonathan Dean when you need him?

      1. ian

        I would think the fair comparison is the percentage of income represented by taxes paid + charitable donations.

    3. rujustdrunk?

      Conservative derangement syndrome on full parade. It feels good to unload a tirade of fictitious claims couched in meaningless catchwords which you can’t even bother to spell correctly, doesn’t it?

    4. Susan Pizzo

      “But this is really low:

      Oh, but it’s one of the remaining Big Four accounting firms! There are only four of them left because one was put out of business under threat of criminal indictment for dressing up Enron’s books.

      this sort of nonsense marks you as someone not to be taken seriously. It borders on Libel.”

      Uhhhh – no. This is an allusion to the firm Arthur Andersen, which in 2002 “voluntarily surrendered its licenses to practice as Certified Public Accountants in the United States after being found guilty of criminal charges relating to the firm’s handling of the auditing of Enron.” A little literacy, particularly economic literacy, is helpful if you’re going to hang out in these parts. There’s a whole universe beyond the economic orthodoxy you’ve been raised to believe…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Andersen

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Even though a comment that is pretty much all noise, no signal, is hardly worthy of reply, let me remind you that Lee Sheppard is a world recognized tax expert. What are your credentials?

      Second, on Rafalca, it’s not a Grand Prix horse, it’s a dressage horse. Huge difference. I was remiss in not linking to her earlier discussion (http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/08/a-tax-expert-takes-closer-look-at-romneys-tax-returns.html):

      Ann Romney’s Olympic horse. Issue: Is Rafalca a business?

      Probably not. Before the Romneys can claim any passive loss deduction for Ann Romney’s share of Rafalca’s expenses, the LLC that owns the horse, Rob Rom Enterprises, has to be engaged in a trade or business. For that, it has to satisfy the hobby loss rule for horses, which has a rebuttable presumption of a business if there is a profit in two out of seven years (section 183(c)). Rob Rom has owned Rafalca for six years.

      Rafalca’s rider said she would be bred when her show career was over. That may be a stretch, because the horse is 15 and has been in strenuous competition for 11 years. If she could produce a foal or two, it would have to be sold for $500,000 or more.

      Moreover, the prize money in dressage competitions doesn’t come close to covering the roughly $120,000 per year for Rafalca’s upkeep and transportation from California to European competitions. So it is unlikely she would ever make a profit for her owners

      And on Warren, we’ve criticized her Senate run, but the “no law license” charge hasn’t gotten out of the Briebart nuthouse, and for good reasons, it’s a bogus charge. She didn’t have to have a license in Mass to advise on FEDERAL cases occasionally. A number of sites that know something about the law have debunked that story, see here for a good write up:

      http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2012/09/no-elizabeth-warren-did-not-engage-in-the-unauthorized-practice-of-law/

      By converse, the author of the effort to make the Mass law license non-issue an issue has also tried creating a Dijon-gate scandal:

      http://legalinsurrection.com/2009/05/msnbc-hides-obamas-dijon-mustard-aka-dijongate/

      You can’t make stuff like that up. You really expect us to take someone with judgment like that seriously?

      So you are going to have to do better than spew bile to be taken seriously here.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Deadly rebuttal: case closed, and mouth shut. Justjealous is revealed as another drive-by troller. He emptied his clip, hitting only his own foot, and limped away.

        The dressage “business” (a term I’d been blissfully ignorant of until this year) is so revealing about the not-quite-trivial pursuits of the rich and shameless — gaming the system for fun and tax-rebate profit, through the hobby-loophole (tax evasion) industry. I recall similar industry schemes just prior to the S&L crisis, of land developers hawking fractional tax-loss “investments” in slumdivision sprawl projects that were expressly designed to fail, especially here in Arizona, merely for the investment-loss value.

        A tax code of tens of thousands of pages is a vulture capitalist’s dream. And it’s no wonder Mitt won’t release prior years. Almost certainly he paid zero percent in prior years.

        Going after Romney is now like shooting fish in a barrel, and unfortunately, Obama could “win” this, the most surreal “election” I’ve ever seen, simply by acclamation. It seems a shame to spend so much time and money on so elaborate a theatrical production, just to keep up appearances.

  3. propertius

    As someone who doesn’t intend to vote for either of the legacy party candidates, I fail to see why Mitt Romney’s tax return (he gave lots to charity, the scoundrel!) is scandalous while Obama’s assassination list is not. As far as I know, Romney hasn’t blown anyone to pink mist or imprisoned anyone without trial. At least not yet.

    1. F. Beard

      (he gave lots to charity, the scoundrel!) propertius

      Anyone know which ones? And did he take a deduction for them? But Christian charity is meant to be done in secret and Mormons do claim to be Christian.

      1. Garrett Pace

        I haven’t followed Gov. Romney’s public statements closely enough to say for sure, but I don’t recall him ever trumpeting his charitable contributions, unless putting them on his tax return qualifies as “trumpeting”. It would not be very seemly if he has crowed about it. And if he has, then he already has his reward.

        1. F. Beard

          unless putting them on his tax return qualifies as “trumpeting”. Garrett Pace

          But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:3-4 [emphasis added]

      2. propertius

        Sorry this is so late, but my router decided to pack it in right before I posted.

        So nobody who takes a charitable deduction can claim to be Christian? I guess it really is easier to squish a camel through the eye of a needle, isn’t it?

        Apparently, Romney gave about 40% of his income to charity, and claimed the deduction for about 30%. As Yves points out, this means he overpaid his taxes – something he could “correct” by filing an amended return. Perhaps he should give less to charity so he can make a more substantial contribution to maintaining the war machine.

        As I said, I don’t have a dog in this fight.

    2. Jane Doe

      I didn’t know we have to pick between moral outrage over death and moral outrage over death be economics.

    3. bob

      First up, would Romney’s kill list be any different? Pure speculation.

      “Charity” is a major misnomer. Most of the 501c3′s are lobbying groups now. That in itself is a tax dodge, but I don’t see anyone changing that anytime soon.

      Discussing his tax returns should be done much more, it shows what Obummer aspires to after leaving office.

      The ultimate “why” is that he claimed that he paid 14% in taxes last year. He didn’t. He paid less than that, and then included a tip, apparently, for the excelent service.

      1. F. Beard

        I suppose he would scratch Mormons off it? Leading to an upsurge in Mormon “conversions”?

        Wait! Never mind. He can baptize them after he’s killed them! But he should make sure they bleed to cover the blood atonement requirement?

        1. diptherio

          Beard, I have to say, this whole Mormon kick you’re on really seems like a “pot calling the kettle black” situation, at least from the perspective of a non-Christian. So far as I can tell, you worship an ancient magical zombie and engage in ritual symbolic cannibalism, yet think baptizing a dead person is weird (as if sprinkling water on a baby’s head to ensure that, should it die, it will not be condemned to eternal suffering by an all-loving deity is totally rational). Can we please keep this site about finance and economics? Please?

          1. F. Beard

            Well, at least I will avoid the gratuitous swipes if I have sense enough not to offend the hostess further.

            But thanks for your 30,000 foot view of Christianity. :)

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Beard, I am putting you on notice. Any more comments that are gratuitous swipes at Mormons and you go into moderation.

    4. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Romney’s tax returns are scandalous because among other reasons, they obfuscate his financial history — as the linked Forbes article points out, it’s quite likely that he bet against the US mortgage market leading up to the Meltdown, and it’s also apparent that he’s been betting against the dollar. But the way in which these tax returns have been released seek to hide both those facts.
      Do you really want a guy with THAT history in charge of the government, including national security?!

      In addition, Romney’s returns show a promiscuous use of tax havens, which are linked to socially destabilizing inequality and increasing poverty both in the US and around the globe.
      http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/front_content.php

      And in my view, the fact that his $100,000,000 IRA is tax free is — in and of itself — an absolute scandal.

      1. Ms G

        “And in my view, the fact that his $100,000,000 IRA is tax free is — in and of itself — an absolute scandal.”

        + 1. I’d really like to see a tax expert explain how this is legally possible.

    5. William

      That’s spurious argument type 23: red herring tactic to deflect attention away from the topic at hand. By the looks of how many wasted effort in responding to this troll, the tactic worked.

  4. Ms G

    “There are only four of them left because one was put out of business under threat of criminal indictment for dressing up Enron’s books.”

    And the only reason the other 3 are still standing is the same reason the zombie banks are stil being fed from the trough of our tax money: they’re too important to fail, because without them Zombie Banks, Private Equity Looters, Hedge Funds, Users of Tax Shelters (etc. etc.) couldn’t get their (phony) Audits and (phony) Opinion Letters which are all ‘necessary to finance under our the pseudo-regulations that exist only to reassure rubes (retail investors, pension funds, 401(k)s, municipalities and states).

    The number of quiet settlements for fraudulent conduct by the Big Bad 3 in the past 5 years alone would have been sufficient to tank and bury them in any honest republic.

    1. Ms G

      Not sure why I fixated on “3″ firms. Keep forgetting about E&Y. Andersen was like the Lehmann of the accounting firms. After it fell on its criminal acts, Authorities adopted the Andersen Doctrine, i.e, “we can’t let any more of them fail (as they should) no matter how big a criminal racket they are.” This doctrine was even cited as a justification for the Zombie Preservation Doctrine that suddenly sprouted after Lehmann was (justly) allowed to fail.

      1. Nathanael

        The reason you keep forgetting about E&Y is that they actually have an OK record, in terms of sheer number of massive criminal fraud scandals (only a couple), compared to the others.

        Deloitte is terrible, but Price Waterhouse Coopers and KPMG are up to their *necks* in filth.

  5. sd

    I would like to know if Romney has earned income from a company like Bin Laden Construction. I don’t think that is at all an unreasonable request. Not releasing his tax returns leads me to believe the worst.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      And I’d like to know whether, at any time, he had any form of ownership of MERS or the corporations that set it up. Or any related technologies or companies.

      Particularly given the Forbes suggestion that given Romney’s closeness to his mega-bundler John Paulson, he very likely bet against the US mortgage market in 2007 and 2008.

      1. bob

        He’s a pretty large holder of F&F bonds.

        I wonder if this is also a reason why he doesn’t want to release more tax information, when did he buy them?

        How could he be allowed to make any decision on their future?

      2. Susan the other

        In 2011 during the fraudclosure flap when Romney made the statement (in Nevada no less) that we should just let foreclosure take its course, one of the blogs pointed out that he owned a lot of LPS – the robosigning documents firm that bought the infamous DocX. Don’t know how true it is. But it certainly sounds like Romney’s MO.

    2. Crazy Horse

      um– I think that business arrangement you are referring to was the long term partnership between George Bush Sr. and the Bin Laden family which has been well documented.

      1. Crazy Horse

        A partnership that was richly rewarded by providing the sacrificial son (although one terminally ill with kidney failure) upon which the false flag attack on September 11 could be blamed. Amazing how easy it was to convince virtually every American that there was nothing unusual about all the laws of physics and gravity being suspended on that day—. And of course it is totally normal for a terminally ill man to grow younger over the years as he is trotted out to provide fuel for needed Orange Alerts, gain musculature development in his shoulders and neck, change his nose and facial structure, and lose his grey hair. Perhaps that explains why when the current American president needed a trophy, he didn’t dare display the most wanted criminal in the world, dead or alive, but instead spirited the body away in the middle of the night for disposal in the deepest ocean trench within flight range.

        Odd isn’t it, that during my three years in Canada I rarely encountered a Canadian who doesn’t think 9-11 was an inside job orchestrated by the Cheney/bush/Neocon cabal. The view from outside, even from our polite and pale neighbors to the North, isn’t always clouded by the fog of “patriotic” delusion that shapes our mental capacities.

  6. Eureka Springs

    Both criminal ponzi-scheming legacy parties are entirely responsible for the convoluted tax system with which rich people and corporations can play endless reindeer games.

    This form for the 2011 tax year is particularly demonstrative of the result of several years with D’s in charge of the House, Senate… even a couple in the Oval ta boot.

    How much more would the Clinton Romney rich have paid in 2011 if Obama had not made the Bush tax cuts entirely a D party tax cut plan for the wealthy?

    Remember Hank Paulson escaped all taxation on 400 million bucks by selling everything when accepting the Treasury Sec position. Is that most egregious loophole ever going to be addressed by either legacy party? Should it even matter since they allowed it to begin with and have done nothing for so terribly long?

    The system is completely corrupt. Criminals are still in charge of both parties.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      ES, I’d really encourage you to read the Forbes piece. Twice. Maybe even three times.

      One of the points it makes near the end is that the Bush tax cuts contained a booby trap: ending the taxes on the rich involved sticking it to those lower on the income scales.

      Thus, the income tax became a ‘class tax’, and those who pay income tax are all too likely to look down their noses and whinge on about how … well, you know ‘half the people in this country don’t pay income tax’, the kind of attitude that was on display in Romney’s “47%” commentary to his fundraising audience back in May 2012.

      It is a deeply corrosive attitude, and I’ve seen the resentment and nasty attitudes it can generate, including a sense that since ‘not everyone pays’ then it must be just fine to use tax havens to ‘protect’ your ‘hard earned’ millions.
      Uff.

    2. ZygmuntFraud

      The US Tax code is really, really convoluted (bringing up again one of your points). Today’s post by Yves (not Eve) quoted from a piece by a sensible journalist, and Section 170 was mentioned. The United States Code (USC) has about 50 Titles. Title 26 is called “The Internal Revenue Code”. Title 26 does indeed have a Section 170, which has at least subsections (a) to (g) inclusive; 26 Section 170 subsection (b) is entitled “Percentage limitations” , and is divided mainly in subparagraphs. Section 170 subsection (b) subparagraph (A) , clause (v) is “a governmental unit referred to in subsection (c)(1),” [ ... subsection (c) of Section 170 of Title 26 of the USC ].

      That’s my best guess … Source of Law is: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/170

  7. avg John

    $100 million dollars in an IRA? How did he get around the contribution and income limits? He is able to roll his benefits from one of his company’s retirement plans into an IRA or something? Shouldn’t there be some sort of ceiling on the amount of “special” shares you can roll into an IRA? I guess it’s one of those tax thingees for the rich and famous. One that little people don’t have to worry about.

    At any rate, how long does he think he is going to live after retirement?

    Sorry, but this seems like it is simply a tax dodge.

    1. bob

      My guess is that it’s all internationally based hedge fund “equity”.

      They can assign any value they want to it. Literally. There is no way, that I know of, to “audit” their holdings. The “trove” of information about Bain’s funds said as much, written by PWC, coincidentally (or not?).

      I’d also guess that there are many other ways to do this, but they all involve fraud.

  8. david j michel jr

    romney may be part of a cult,but he gave 4mill.to charity.after 4 years of obama we all need charity!

    1. Moneta

      If maybe less money was going to the top .1%, we would not need as many charities.

      It’s disgusting to think that on top of sucking up all so much money they also get to decide who is worthy or not of their destitution.

      And even more disturboing is the number of people who fail to see this.

      1. avg John

        Exactly. It’s like “here’s some canned goods, cereal and powdered milk, oh, and we are trying to reserve a ‘floor space’ at the local homeless shelter for you”, using body language that shouts, “now get out of my sight you worthless bum”. That’s not charity, that’s an assault on the person’s self-worth and an act of hate.

        These political leadrers need to read Jesus’s story about the good Samaritan who happened on a person who was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. Then reflect on the loving care provided to the victim by the Samaritan. That is charity.

        So if you want to give to the poor, maybe we can use eye-contact, a firm handshake, maybe extending an arm to touch his or her shoulder, and a simple statement such as “I know that circumstances and events in life seems to be working against you now, but I want you to know it could happen to anyone and I’m in your corner, and we are not going to stop fighting until we make things right. God bless and keep you”. Oh, and don’t go around telling everyone you know you are working the kitchen at the homeless shelter. That would be charity.

        Now that is not to say that their is not homeless people out there with psychological problems or drug and alcohol problems and you must use a little care when dealing with them, but even if you have little money of your own, you can be more “charitable” than a rich man, if you just occasionally strike up a conversation with a homeless person, offer him a little encouragement, tell them you understand that life and circumstances can conspire against anyone, and you are behind them (I wouldn’t get into politics though).

        Sorry if it is a little off topic, but calling tax deductible donations “charitable” is sort of a stretch.

        “There but for the grace of God go I”.

      2. Nathanael

        They’re trying to make themselves feudal lords — only without the responsibilities and duties which that entails.

        This won’t actually work, because once they have dismantled the previous system in their attempt to become feudal lords, a *real* feudal lord — someone who is a competent military commander and actually feeds everyone under his protection — will wipe the floor with them.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Erm, I don’t think this is a smoking gun. But I will pass it on to Sheppard.

      A guy like that gets as huge amount of his income from partnerships. He would not have had the K-1 filings by the time he did his preliminary returns.

      1. RueTheDay

        The short term capital gains I could maybe see that being the case. However, the taxable interest? According to the statement attached to his 1040, the bulk of it was from Treasury Bonds. He filed the preliminary return on January 24. How can you be that far off on your estimate of interest received on Treasuries that late in the game? Remember, this guy employs an army of tax attorneys and accountants.

        One hypothesis I’ve heard is that he transferred a lot of personal assets to a couple of his trusts or between his trusts late in the year. Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know as he isn’t releasing any details on the trusts.

      2. Nathanael

        I’ve started to disapprove of pass-through entities; they seem to be the basis for endless tax complication.

  9. polistra

    Betting against the dollar is what caught my attention. Now we know why he wants to be president (which was frankly a puzzle until now!)

    Because a mere plutocrat can’t devalue the dollar on his own.

  10. Expat

    Romney’s low tax rates will be used as a weapon by the very people who decry big government and taxes. Personally, I think Romney should have paid 40% on EVERYTHING. I also think he should be sent to Abu Graib for enhanced interrogation about his tax situation.

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