COMMENTARY | So Mitt Romney has released his 2011 tax return and some “summaries” of his tax rates over the last 20 years. In other words, Mitt Romney has learned absolutely nothing from any of his last six months of endless debacles.
Like an ice-skater with a flesh-colored net under her sparkly top, Romney has offered the American people the illusion of transparency, not transparency.
Mitt even had to finagle his 2011 taxes, not claiming his full “charitable deductions” in order to stay above the 13 percent threshold of income tax he claimed he never went below earlier this year. In doing so, he paid more tax than he owed, which, according to him — and we’re reminded by Raw Story — means he’s not fit to be president.
But that’s not even the most important part.
Romney claims that he has paid an average effective tax rate of 20.20 percent over the period from 1990-2009, as per the “notarized” letter from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers now available on the Romney site. Before we go any further, it’s important to note that the “sworn” signature, the “notarization,” only says that the letter was prepared by the firm.
Nowhere, nowhere, on the two pages that I could see, did anyone swear that the information contained in the PWC letter was actually true, under penalty of perjury or not. The only thing that it says is that the person whose signature appears on the letter is the person who signed the letter.
And therein lies the illusion.
Outside of a “final” 2011 tax return (he can always amend it later to fully claim the charitable deduction, and he likely will), we have no more information about Romney’s taxes than we had yesterday. We have a highly sanitized, just-filed return, and we have a letter that has absolutely nothing to back up the claims contained within it.
A letter presented to us as though it has a “notarized” stamp of truth, when all it has is a “notarized” stamp that the person who wrote the letter signed it in front of the notary, and that the document was prepared by the firm.
No doubt that taxes seem like a safer ground than the dismissal of 47 percent of Americans or the offhand statement that “[W]e use Ann sparingly right now so that people don’t get tired of her.” But though it may be a new verse, it’s the same old chorus: We, the American public, are not entitled to the truth about Mitt Romney’s taxes. We, according to Romney, have no right to see them, so this ought to quiet us down.
From the Romney site: “With a decade’s worth of financial disclosure documents and the Romneys’ recent tax returns, the American people have extensive information about their personal finances, above and beyond what is required by the law.”
Which sounds an awful lot like saying you’ve already gotten more than you deserve, so stop asking.
Do not be fooled. There is always a reason people go for the illusion of transparency over real transparency. Like that ice-skater, Mitt Romney likely doesn’t want to find himself exposed.