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Friday, August 24, 2012

Details in Romney's Released Tax Returns Raise New Questions

While most people focus on the tax returns that Mitt Romney has not released, there's been too little probing of what he has actually distributed.  Just now the estimable James B. Stewart at the NYT has written what could turn out to be one of the most revealing and important reports yet on what's likely in "the missing years," largely based on his "foreign tax credit."  Two excerpts:

--"The good news for Mr. Romney is the forms suggest that he paid at least some federal income tax every year, as he has said he did....But the data does suggest that Mr. Romney was able to reduce his taxable income in 2009 to a very low level, and thus might have paid relatively little tax — even if it did, as Mr. Romney claims, amount to at least 13 percent of his taxable income. Tax experts also said it is theoretically possible, though highly unlikely, that he paid no federal income tax in 2009. At the same time, an unusually high foreign tax credit in 2008 raises questions about the size and source of Mr. Romney’s foreign income that year and how it was treated for tax purposes."

--"There’s nothing to suggest that Mr. Romney did anything wrong. He has said he has paid what he owed but not one dollar more....But a relatively low adjusted gross income in a year like 2009, as well as the large foreign tax credit in 2008, raise questions that he might prefer to avoid. They also shed light on tax avoidance tactics commonly used by the ultrawealthy but out of reach for the average taxpayer."

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