Romney Lists USA Under ‘Foreign Country’ on Tax Return

Mitt Romney's 2011 tax return has "USA" in the space for "Foreign country name." Requests for his birth certificate will surely follow.

Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax return has “USA” in the space for “Foreign country name.” Requests for his birth certificate will surely follow.

US News (“Mitt Romney Calls U.S.A. a ‘Foreign Country’ in His Tax Returns“):

When the former Massachusetts governor released his official 2011 tax return Friday, he (or whoever actually filled out the form) appeared to have mistakenly referred to the United States as a foreign country.

“If you have a foreign address,” the tax return instruction reads, “also complete spaces below.” In the space below, under “foreign country name,” Romney’s form reads “USA.”

Several tax preparers confirmed to Whispers that “USA” should not have been written in that line—assuming the Republican presidential nominee is actually a citizen of the United States.

The fact that it says “Foreign country” makes that rather obvious without reading the instructions.

What’s odd here isn’t that the mistake was made—who among us hasn’t filled out a form by rote and screwed it up?–but that, since I’m quite sure Romney hasn’t filled out his own tax return in decades, it was almost certainly made by a very expensive accountant. You’d think they’d have the top block of the 1040 down pat.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Commonist says:

    They are so bad at this.


  2. Nikki says:

    That the Republicans chose this sorry, disgusting excuse of an American as their candidate for the presidency speaks volumes about the state of the GOP.

  3. Scott O says:

    Do people still fill out these forms? I’ve been using software to do my taxes for 10 years or so.

  4. PJ says:

    Anyone remember the Obama bio for his book stating that he was born in Kenya? And a lot of people on the right shouting about it being a smoking gun?

    Here we have Romney’s tax return stating that the US is a foreign country.

    If Obama had a 1040 that stated that the US was a foreign country there will be calls for having him removed as a President.

  5. JKB says:

    What this means is that sometime in the past, this very expensive accountant had a client audited where some IRS bureaucrat dinged them at least initially for not putting a country in that block. So, they put “USA” there to avoid the hassles.

    The thing to remember, there are the instructions, there is commonsense and then there is the way the bureaucrats demand a form be completed for them to accept and process it. I used to help federal wage mariners complete and send in their workers comp claims to the Department of Labor. The forms would be rejected if there wasn’t something written in every block. If it didn’t apply the individual, you’d better put “N/A” or it would get kicked back. If there wasn’t an appropriate choice, you wrote the correct on in. Such as the block, “Dependents”. The choices were “Spouse, children, other”. If you didn’t have a spouse, children or other dependent upon you, you might logically not check a box. Big mistake, they’d kick the form back and delay your claim. So single people without dependents had organically know to put “N/A” over that block or get advice from someone who’d dealt with the morons at DOL processing the forms.

    Deal with situations like this a few times, and you put something in the block no matter what, on all government forms.

  6. JKB says:


    Well, given the “foreign country” block applies to the preceding mail address and nothing else, Romeny could simply be making a statement that Massachusetts is not in free America.

  7. Don says:

    Most lines of my family have been here since pre-1776 and it’s starting to feel more and more like a foreign country to me every day.

  8. Jack Moss says:

    Well he could have asked Tim Geithner to help him out. Heard he has some great tax saving tips.

  9. Ah, so this explains why Romney can’t spell “America”.

  10. scott says:

    @JKB: Well, maybe; however, I just checked my 1040 as filled in by Turbo Tax and the block in question is blank. I doubt that this can be blamed on an overzealous auditor. Just an inattentive accountant. Of course, under the law, that is no excuse as both Romney and Ann both sign the return. Curious though, can anybody tell whether these are computer generated returns or not?

  11. mantis says:

    They filled it out that way because for Romney’s money, the USA is a foreign country.

    You know if Obama’s tax return had this error they would be talking about it on Fox for days, bringing birthers and the Republican officials who enable them on to talk about how it raises serious questions that need to be addressed.

    We’ll just laugh about it and move on.

  12. mantis says:


    Well, given the “foreign country” block applies to the preceding mail address and nothing else, Romeny could simply be making a statement that Massachusetts is not in free America.

    Indeed, Massachusetts is still under the sway of that tyrant Abraham Lincoln. Wait, what century is this?

  13. al-Ameda says:

    … even his tax preparer can’t get it right


  15. JKB says:

    Oh god, it’s worse. The 1040 instructions say not to abbreviate the country’s name.

    You know what this means? Romney is the type of person who does things his own way right in the face of the Government’s strict directives. It’s to late now, it’s out. Mitt Romney is not good cattle on the government plantation. On might say he doesn’t belong to the government. You know, I’ll bet he doesn’t use the new coversheet for his TPS report either. Oh, the humanities.

  16. Tony W says:

    As fun as it is to pile on the seemingly hapless Mr. Romney, in this instance the culprit is either his accountant, or the programmer of their tax software.

    I do want to suggest, however, that it is not simply benign to publish this stuff. My fear when I read stories like this is that folks on the right will use it to rationalize and pretend that all criticism of the governor is unfairly biased and non-serious.

    We should, instead, be focused on the many areas of sigificant, and I fear permanent, damage that a cynical businessman such as Mr. Romney would bring to America with his policies and attitudes.

    Those of us who prefer to live in a true community, rather than a society modeled on prison-yard rules, are ill served in the long run if we choose to focus on his gaffes rather than a selfish and hateful worldview.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    …Romeny could simply be making a statement that Massachusetts is not in free America.

    Oh my, what is this, Red Dawn? The chair is against the wall? Be sure to get to those places in free America like Mississippi, Alabama, and North Dakota before it’s too late…

  18. Gromitt Gunn says:

    It is probably a standard part of the tax prep software at PwC. At least three layers of folks would sign off on a tax form of someone who brings as much money to the firm (PwC also audits Bain) as Romney.

  19. bill says:

    @Nikki: well compared to who’s in there now…..really? romney’s resume makes obama’s look like a career volunteer.

  20. LC says:

    it was almost certainly made by a very expensive accountant. You’d think they’d have the top block of the 1040 down pat.

    That was my reaction. I’ve used Turbo Tax for a very long time (anybody remember DOS?) and, in a previous existence, provided IT support for the tax software used by a Fortune 50 company. It’s hard to imagine that kind of mistake being made. But, back in the dark ages of IT, tax experts used the software. No doubt today, in that very expensive tax accounting firm, most of the work is probably being done by unpaid interns and checked by newbies not the upper crust who got the account from Romney.

    And, no, I do not think it is an issue re Romney’s competence, although it did produce a bit of a giggle.

  21. @Don:
    Mine have been here too, and I say your’e full of sh*t

  22. You are …
    My bad

  23. mattb says:


    romney’s resume makes obama’s look like a career volunteer.

    Right… except for that entire “President of the United States, 2008 to present” thing.

    Unless of course you’re arguing that all of Romney’s experience is somehow greater than occupying the big seat for four years. And of course, if that’s the case, why does Romney have such a hard-on for becoming president?

  24. J-Dub says:

    Free America is comprised mostly of states that receive a surplus in Federal assistance. Socialist Massachusetts probably funds Free Mississippi.