On PoliticsNation with Reverend Al Sharpton, I joined Bloomberg’s Joshua Green and Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim to discuss Mitt Romney’s continued stonewalling on the tax return issue and asked these questions: Is it possible that Romney participated in the 2009 IRS Amnesty program for Americans with undeclared off-shore bank accounts? If so, might this doom his campaign? Some viewers objected to my “boneheaded partisan attack.” As you read this, change the name ‘Romney’ to ‘Obama’, then ask if GOP supporters would look the other way.
GOP split over Romney’s tax returns
PoliticsNation | Aired on July 18, 2012
More Republicans are calling for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, despite criticism from Rush Limbaugh and other party members. Romney is still shrugging it off, but how long can he dodge the issue? Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post, former judge Catherine Crier, and Josh Green of Bloomberg Business Week discuss what could be learned from Romney’s tax returns.
In 2008, Romney showed the McCain campaign his tax returns for 23 years. (It is not known how much, if any, supporting documentation was included.) He has made his 2010 return public but without the FBAR document detailing his off-shore accounts, and he promises to release the 2011 return in October. But Romney is adament that only 2010-11 will be made available to the American people. So, to date, ‘outsiders’ have seen part/all of 25 annual IRS filings. Why is Romney stonewalling despite pleas for complete disclosure from leading conservatives and publications like WSJ and National Review?
Well, it is all or nothing. He cannot agree to cough up those documents reviewed by the McCain campaign without releasing ’08-’09. Obviously, it is logical to focus on these years.
Some suggest he may have suffered sufficient setbacks in the ’08-’09 collapse to zero out his tax bill during that period. I believe his low tax rate is already ‘built into the political equation and that this information would be damaging to his campaign, not devastating. However, another possibility exists.
In 2009, cracks appeared in the Swiss iron curtain. The IRS acquired closely guarded, seemingly inviolate information about unreported US dollars stashed overseas. Federal prosecutors began filing cases and obtained some high-profile convictions. That year, amnesty was offered to citizens who voluntarily disclosed these accounts. About 15,000 people came forward, tendering billions in unpaid taxes, fines and penalties. (The offer was extended again in 2011-12.)
I do not know if Romney ever failed to report his off-shore accounts to the IRS. If so, I don’t know if he sought amnesty in 2009 to avoid the previously unfathomable prospect of criminal prosecution. But as a former criminal prosecutor and civil judge, I do know the inquiry is valid. And if he did? Then he must guard those returns with his political life. Watch the segment clip above and let me know your thoughts on Twitter.