Romney: I’ve Been Audited

In an interview with ABC News, Mitt Romney admitted that he had been the subject of a tax audit in the past:

Muir: You are here on what some have termed your world audition and democrats, not surprisingly, continue to hammer you back home on taxes, you remain firm two years and two years only. So from what you have released and from what we have seen we know that there was one year when you paid about 13.9% tax rate. Can we clear this up by asking a simple yes or no question? Was there ever any year when you paid lower than 13.9%?

Romney: I haven’t calculated that. I’m happy to go back and look but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law. From time to time I’ve been audited as happens I think to other citizens as well and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due. I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

Muir: You said you would go back and look, would you look for us?

Romney: I haven’t looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall

Now the first thing to note here is that David Muir, the ABC reporter who interviewed Romney didn’t ask him at all about being audited so I’m not entirely sure why Romney decided to volunteer that information. To many people an “audit” brings on connotations of wrong doing or cheating on your taxes and that’s not really the impression I would think the campaign wants to give the public. In reality, of course, being audited isn’t always a question of wrongdoing and it’s not surprising that someone like Romney, whose tax returns are clearly hugely complicated and involve provisions of the tax code that are insanely complicated, has been subjected to an audit at least once in his career. Most likely, this was the kind of audit that basically involved representatives of IRS and Romney’s accounting firm arguing back and forth, perhaps over the course of months or longer, over some obscure point in the return. At the very least, it is unfair to jump to the conclusion that there was wrongdoing or (illegal) tax evasion involved.

Nonetheless, what this question seems to prove to me, though, is that Romney is not going to be able to keep dodging this tax issue. As I said weeks ago, he should just release the returns and get it over with.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    There’s something in those returns he’s going to try and hide for as long as possible.

  2. legion says:

    To many people an “audit” brings on connotations of wrong doing or cheating on your taxes

    I don’t think it’s that; it’s that he doesn’t sound particularly certain on this subject… to most people, _whether or not_ and _how many times_ one has been audited is pretty darn clear in one’s memory. Like his poor response about not being able to remember how many houses he owns, it underscores the fact that Romney just doesn’t have any connection at all with ordinary human beings. _People_ know when they’ve been audited; only _corporations_ (or the professionally rich) have it happen so often they stop counting… hey… maybe _that’s_ why they want to declare corporations to be people – because Mitt’s already turned into one!

    “Soylent Green is a corporation!”

  3. de stijl says:

    @legion:

    Like his poor response about not being able to remember how many houses he owns…

    Unless I’ve missed something (and Googling Romney+House didn’t pop anything in the first two pages), I’m pretty sure you’re thinking about McCain’s botched response to a question about how many houses he owned.

  4. DRS says:

    He really needs someone to sit him down and lay out what the average person’s financial life is like. These off-the-cuff, casual comments reveal that he doesn’t realize that wealthy people will have different experiences and that not everyone will be able to relate to them. It’s just bizarre sometimes, his disconnect from the “real world”.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    The biggest point is not that he has been audited, but that he said:

    “…I haven’t looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall…”

    Emphasis mine.
    One of the major issues of this campaign is whether 13.9% is a substantial amount for him to pay when I am paying about the same…and he makes in one day what I make in a year +/-. Yes, yes, I know it’s a lot of money in dollars…as a percentage not so much.
    When you consider that he has recieved millions (billions?) in corporate welfare from the Government…which I have not recieved…then I don’t think it’s a substantial amount at all.
    You may disagree…which is fine…that’s what elections are about.

  6. rudderpedals says:

    Way to beg the questions of how many audits there were, what drew the audits and how were the audits resolved? He’d be fun at a depo.

  7. mantis says:

    @C. Clavin:

    One of the major issues of this campaign is whether 13.9% is a substantial amount for him to pay

    He said amount, not percentage. I’m sure everyone would probably agree that no matter what he pays, if it’s anything above 0%, it would be “substantial” in terms of dollars. For instance, in his 2010 returns, he paid 13.9% in taxes. Is that a substantial percentage? You make the call, but I don’t think anyone would call the $3 million represented by that percentage less than substantial.

    Just sayin….

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, what would have been scarier is if Romney hadn’t been audited. That would have meant we’ve been paying IRS people literally to do nothing.

    As far as the tax returns go, I seriously doubt we’ll see them. Something in there is a flaming toxic disaster of a political train wreck. There are no other plausible conclusions.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @ Mantis…
    Agreed…which is why I wrote that.
    But that’s the reason we compare things as percentages…because it makes them comparable.
    And that’s the reason wingnuts don’t like to do things as percentages. For instance Obama has raised the deficit far more than Reagan in monetary terms…but far less as a percentage of GDP. Comparing deficit increases from Presidencies 30 years apart in monetary terms is bunk…but when you don’t have an argument you have to distort one out of thin air.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To many people an “audit” brings on connotations of wrong doing or cheating on your taxes and that’s not really the impression I would think the campaign wants to give the public.

    I don’t know many people who would make that inference, Doug. Most of us know that an audit is about looking for mistakes.

  11. legion says:

    @de stijl: D’oh! You are correct. Romney got beat up for other house-related things, but not that.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    The question to Romney was. “Can we clear this up by asking a simple yes or no question? Was there ever any year when you paid lower than 13.9%?”

    Romney changed the subject to, ‘I didn’t do anything illegal.’ What else can he do? He can’t answer the question that was asked. He’s probably, on average, paid a much lower effective income tax rate than I do, or than most people on this thread. Possibly zero in one or two years. That’s the secret, not some horrible smoking gun about illegality.

    Apropos the ‘Romney isn’t a wimp’ thread on OTB, Romney is too cautious a man to have risked any illegality in his taxes.

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    As I’ve said before there is something toxic in the 2009 taxes.
    1) He paid no taxes in 2009 because of loses in 2008. Legal but damaging
    2) He took advantage of the amnesty on unreported money in foreign banks. Toxic!

  14. de stijl says:

    @legion:

    The car elevator doesn’t scream “man of the people.”

  15. al-Ameda says:

    It’s going to be items like that $77,000 deduction for equestrian horses that will endear him to all of those people who want to be successful.

  16. jd says:

    “I was audited” – translation – “It was legal”
    And a dash of Bart Simpson’s “I wasn’t there when it happened”.