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Your Take: Presidential Candidates Releasing Tax Returns

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Mitt RomneyWe’re in a funny time period in terms of sports right now. We’re in the second half of Major League Baseball but not yet near the end of the season where we start talking about wildcard berths and division winners. We’re in the off-season of almost every other major sport and so other than the occasional Major in golf and tennis, there isn’t much in terms of major sports events until the Olympics (which only comes by during this time once ever four years). So our only daily sport is politics… fortunately we have some of that gladiatorial combat for us to enjoy with it being a Presidential election year.

So this week’s latest battle involves Mitt Romney’s involvement at Bain, some potentially improper SEC filings by Bain, the Obama campaign calling him out on it, and a revisiting of of Romney refusing to release more than two years of tax returns. It’s all part of the vitriol that is politics in our 24/7 news cycle and mainstream media trying to get as many eyeballs as possible.

The part that I wanted to ask you guys about is the tax returns. Should Romney really have to release more than two years of personal income tax returns? It’s become this thing that’s grown bigger and bigger with each day. Romney made a ton of money, I say good for him, but should he have to lay bare his financial life? Is that fair?

I don’t think it’s fair but that’s what we demand from the people who are seeking our nation’s highest office. You don’t have to release all of your tax returns. You also don’t have to run for President. When you are going for such a high profile position, everyone wants to know everything about you. It’s not fair but it’s the standard.

What do you think?

(Photo: gageskidmore)

{ 93 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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93 Responses to “Your Take: Presidential Candidates Releasing Tax Returns”

  1. Jason says:

    I agree w/ you Jim, he should not have to disclose this information. However, I think Mitt may eventually cave into the political pressure and disclose further tax returns.
    The media on BOTH sides this election season are absolutely acting like little children fighting; both looking for ways to “slam” and “embarrass” each other, rather than seriously presenting each candidates proposals on how to think to fix the economic messes we’re in.

  2. Some jobs I apply for require a credit check, which constitutes a personal examination of at least some of my finances. In a sense, Romney is applying for a position where everyone in the USA is his employer, so if the public wants him to lay bare his records as part of his candidacy, I have no objection.

    • Texas Wahoo says:

      Some states have passed laws preventing employers from requiring or asking for credit checks.

  3. elloo says:

    The American people (aka “you people”) should have a look at Romney’s tax returns. No one put a gun to his head to run for president. If he wants this job, then transparency rules the day. Showing the returns is part and parcel to this endeavor. If Romney he feels that it’s ok to hide something from us now as candidate, what else will he think will be ok to keep from us as president? His tin ear refusal to release his tax returns shows that he is not capable and ready for this role. His refusal does not foster my trust or respect, and I won’t support him.

    • 123 says:

      “The American people (aka “you people”) should have a look at Romney’s tax returns.” He released 2 years per requirement.

      “No one put a gun to his head to run for president.” Nor did they change the requirement since he began to run.

      “If he wants this job, then transparency rules the day.” Since when? Your suggesting the current President got elected with transparency? Give me a break.

      “Showing the returns is part and parcel to this endeavor.” Again, he released 2 years.

      “If Romney he feels that it’s ok to hide something from us now as candidate, what else will he think will be ok to keep from us as president?” You don’t know his feelings. This is a media manufactured fear you have.

      “His tin ear refusal to release his tax returns shows that he is not capable and ready for this role.” Why not 20? where did the magical 10 years come from? Ready for what role, playing by the rules as they are currently set?

      “His refusal does not foster my trust or respect, and I won’t support him.” Would you honestly support him if his taxes were not the headline issue of the week?

      This tax issue is purely manufactured by the media. John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi never received such treatment. Both of which are equally wealthy.

      Rather than beat up the man of the hour, your complaint is with the 2 year requirement, it should not be directed at one wealthy individual.

      I’m sure all of Congress would love to participate in the magical 10 years of released tax returns, what do you think?

  4. tom says:

    I think it’s BS.

    He released 2 years and that’s the law.

    What will they do with them? Look for abnormalities? Look for offshore accounts? Do you really think a guy with hundreds of millions of dollars will make it easy to find that information?

    Will the Obama campaign use it to say he’s out of touch? Well… both candidates are multimillionaires… both are out of touch.

    This whole thing is a MASSIVE distraction from the real problems our country faces. No one is addressing the real issues, both candidates economic plans are garbage.

    I am just so sick and tired of politics. When will the public realize that they need to start demanding political changes? Politicians need to hear that constituents demand campaign finance reform and 100% transparency and if they don’t get it, you’re gone… voted out, bring on the next guy/gal.

    • Jim says:

      If there are irregularities, someone will find it no matter how savvy your tax people are. It is a distraction from the real issues.

  5. Aaron says:

    It’s funny how we all are so hypocritical when it comes to politicians. We say “it’s their own business” when it involves certain matters of their personal life – and then in other areas, we say “it’s OUR business”.

    But being a public figure like this opens yourself up to all sorts of scrutiny – and this is no exception. It shows you have something to hide when you don’t release em.

  6. joe says:

    Tom,

    I agree with everything you said.

    Is Obama a multimillionaire? If so, how? He has been working for the government or non profit his whole career. THIS IS NOT AN ANTI OBAMA STATEMENT; IT IS AN ANTI POLITITCS AS THEY ARE NOW STATEMENT. It just seems to beg the question: how does a politician obtain that level of wealth?

    • Jim says:

      With Obama, it was from the books. His 2007 income had $3.9mm from books and his 2008 had another $2.6mm.

      • uclalien says:

        But would Obama have sold more than 10 copies of his book if he weren’t a politician? Not a chance. You see, whether or not he earned his millions directly or indirectly from being a politician is beside the point. The fact is that most politicians leave politics richer than when they came in. Politicians understand this and, in most cases, it’s a major driver for them obtaining higher office. I believe this is what Joe was alluding.

        • doraflood says:

          This isn’t really about how much money each candidate has. It’s about two issues: a) Did Romney receive any funding from Bain as a result of their outsourcing of American jobs; b) How much money did Romney park in off-shore accounts to avoided paying income taxes; and c)Romney and his Republican supporters have also been calling for Obama to release information that is not required by law.

          Of course, the information that they want Obama to release has no impact on the US economy in the way that tax avoidance and shifting jobs have made – so now the Republicans are saying Romney has complied to the letter of the law. Well, so has Obama — and more!

        • Matt M says:

          Obama would make a lot more in the private sector for sure. I don’t like the guy but he is very smart and with credentials like being the president of the Harvard Law Review he would have made a killing in the private sector.

          • Grumpy says:

            Not sure Obama could earn much of anything in the private sector as a lawyer prior to becoming a politician. His history seems to bear this out. He has used his political career as a springboard to sell books that he may or may not have written. But as an ex-President he’ll make lots of money making meaningless speeches.

          • Jim says:

            Ex-presidents make a ton of money on the speaking circuit…

        • Some say the amount books sold was a means of a “slush” fund of sort to pay Obama. Interesting concept I donno if I agree with the idea though.

  7. Miserly says:

    There is a tremendous upside if he releases the records and it shows nothing but honest profit and income. There is nothing but downside if he releases them and significant errors or misrepresentations are shown. By not releasing them, the public assumes he has something to hide. In matters of public trust, it is not always the law that is important, but often the character of the person is more important.

  8. xbalance says:

    I agree that it is a distraction away from the real issues and I really don’t care how wealthy Mitt Romney is. BUT I do care about his credibility. Based on his resistance I now suspect that he has played in the gray legal area of income tax reporting. If his tax returns are released and prove my suspicions to be true this will hurt his credibility.

  9. Fried says:

    I think I want to know who he will be beholding to when he takes the power of the highest office in the world. If his tax returns might give me an insight to that I want to see ALL of them. The fact is if you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t have any problem releasing all of it. My guess is he won’t because he hasn’t been honest with his church about giving 10% of his income and wealth. My guess is Mitts made a lot more money than he wants to let known. And that’s besides the fact they will put sunlight on every loophole and tax dodge in the tax code. I have no doubt he used everyone of them to avoid paying his fair share and now we will know about all of them. Not good for his benefactors.

    • uclalien says:

      I hate the phrase “fair share.” It’s such an arbitrary phrase. How can someone pay hundreds of millions in taxes and another person pay zero and it be considered fair in any way?

  10. Gregg says:

    No more income tax. Consumption tax only then will not have to worry about tax returns. It is a pay as you go system. Romney is not trying to hide anything he is just keeping the darts out of the complainer and chief’s hands. They would claim he is insensitive if Romney had a wart removed.

    Do what the law says. Obutthead has not released many things that have been requested of him such as his college grades, entry exams, dissertations, and does anyone see him releasing any info on fast and furious? Obama is the least transparent of the two candidates.

    • doraflood says:

      Can you really compare the release of college grades from 20+ years ago to the release of tax returns that show anti-american economy transactions? Really? Words on a college dissertation? Really? We’re supposed to look the other way everytime Romney flip-flops on a policy. Remember he was pro-choice before the tea party — he was pro-stem cell research when his wife got sick — now he’s anti both. Hum…

      I don’t know what Obama or Romney wrote in their college thesis — and personally, I would LOVE to see Romney’s from the Business School. If Obama has changed his view points from college to now — how is that different from Romney who changes his positions each time he runs for a different race?

      • Jim says:

        How about the documents Romney created why at Bain? Oh yeah, I don’t care because that would be cheap politicking.

  11. tom says:

    +1 xbalance.. it comes down to credibility. the more he resists, the more it looks like he’s hiding something.

  12. Matt in CLT says:

    His prior personal history is a good indication of his future behavior/ethics as President. Everything about a candidate should be examined thoroughly, especially when it has become precedent for prior Presidents to release their returns. He obviously has something to hide which would cause us to question his ethics and character.

  13. huskervolleyball1 says:

    Wow, a real divergence of opinion on this topic. I think that he should do the same as his father did and release all of his tax returns. I think he has something to hide, if he doesn’t then show us.

    However I agree with the comments re solutions to our real problems–let’s have some honest answers from all candidates about important topics.

    Pretty soon it will be Olympics time and we will all be distracted–Hunger Games anyone?

  14. Texas Wahoo says:

    Personally, I do not care about tax returns from more than a couple of years ago. At some point it just gets silly. Should he release 10 years of tax returns? 20 years? 35 years? Should he release all of his tax returns? Should he release any of his parents tax returns on which they claimed him as a dependent?

    I liken it to the President’s Birth Certificate. There is no rule that candidates have to release older tax returns or their birth certificate. Some people will complain and make a big deal out of it and assume the candidate is hiding something if they don’t release it, but those are likely the people that would make a big deal out of everything that candidate does anyway.

  15. Lesley says:

    Absolutely he should release them, now that he has made such a fuss. He has been most arrogant about everything, and, as shown again and again, a bit of “untruthiness” has crept into his spiel.

    After all, he is asking us to hire him to fix the economy. And his record, for the US does not look so good, with outsourcing, and the whole issue of health care.

    So, yep, he has to open up, especially since he has not given us anything substantial as a plan to really fix things. He has just said he will. And we should trust him, why?

    • 123 says:

      Because Obama already spent your ‘Hope and Change’. That might be a good reason.

      What is Obama’s plan exactly, I forget?

  16. chalaco says:

    i do agree, Let’s talk about real things. Unemployment in US? how Mr Mommey helped the unemployment in us?

  17. freeby50 says:

    Yeah I think revealing your personal finances is a reasonable requirement to be the President.
    A presidential candidate shouldn’t have anything to hide. Anyone running for president should know full well that everything about their life may be exposed publicly. Hiding stuff just breeds suspicion and they must realize that.

  18. I think if I want a President to run the nation and handle the economy I want to see all of his tax returns. You give up some things when you run for president and this is one of them.

  19. BC says:

    OK,

    -Rich guy.
    -Wealthy family history.
    -He will not disclose all prior tax info.
    -He protects the lesser tax responsibility of the wealthy.
    -He off shores jobs and then terminates businesses .
    -He raises record amounts of money from super P.A.C.’s
    -Super P.A.C.”s do not disclose who (or what corporation) they are, or prior tax info.

    Does anyone but me see a correlation here ?
    Is there a connection/protection mindset ?

    If he is applying to be employed by ALL of us in a job that will effect all of our lives and our parents and our children (think Bush administration), we have to know ALL of his history in order to “hire” him.

    It should not even be a question.

    • 123 says:

      -Rich guy.
      Name one politician that is POOR.

      -Wealthy family history.
      Tar and feather him!

      -He will not disclose all prior tax info.
      Not required.

      -He protects the lesser tax responsibility of the wealthy.
      So does Obama reinstating Bush tax cuts.

      -He off shores jobs and then terminates businesses .
      The Unions dug most of the graves here.

      -He raises record amounts of money from super P.A.C.’s
      Both parties do this.

      -Super P.A.C.”s do not disclose who (or what corporation) they are, or prior tax info.
      Again, both parties do this.
      Of course Obama also get contributions from Europe, seems illegal no?

      Does anyone but me see a correlation here ?
      Is there a connection/protection mindset ?
      Country is run by the Banks.
      Politicians are the pawns, Pres. included.

      If he is applying to be employed by ALL of us in a job that will effect all of our lives and our parents and our children (think Bush administration), we have to know ALL of his history in order to “hire” him.

      -Agreed. Even if you attempt for a Re-hire.
      Although the Media would not agree here.

      • BC says:

        First of all “123″ you missed the point of the statement.

        It is to open an eye into the possibilities of what this non disclosure action might come from.

        These are facts and observations, not judgements.

        Any american would not vehemently object to disclosing this type of financial info in an open and honest environment if applying for the job of “leader of the free world”.

        I do not care about wealth, Obama, banks and the so called media (they are almost all tabloids as far as I am concerned).

        I care about the honesty of ANYONE that has the ability to effect our lives and the lives of my (our) children.

        “Required” or not, just be honest if you want the job.

        Is that really too much to ask?

        When I type “record” that means highest ever, not just donations.

        I am not choosing sides here but do not forget that Obama’s first presidential campaign raised the majority of it’s funds from small, individual donors prior to the supreme court ruling. They are just trying to play on the same field now.

        Don’t drink the cool aid

        Be nice … choose wisely

    • Mike says:

      Rich guy? George Washington owned like half of Virginia. I think we did well there.

      Besides, I was here when Romney was our governor. He isn’t that bad.

      • doraflood says:

        I was there when Romney was the governor. He signed the same-sex bill and oh — created universal health care for all of Massachusetts. He also got his deficit butt saved when an employee found a federal loop-hole for $500million. By the way, do you not remember that he balanced the state budget by throwing all the local budgets out of whack — and the subsequent real estate tax hikes to pay for schooling and police officers?

  20. Matt M says:

    I definitely agree with Romney because if he releases two years the democrats will demand four years, and so on.

  21. I don’t think he should have to, but I’m sure a lot of people won’t vote for him when they see how many tens or hundreds of millions he made at Bain. Obviously that’s why he hasn’t released them yet. I’m sure his advisors are trying to figure out if he’ll lose more votes from releasing or not releasing.

  22. Nate K says:

    I don’t think anyone should have to release their tax returns. It’s no one’s business. I’m sick and tired of hearing the term “their fair share.” I’m not rich, but I say, “more power to him.” he worked hard and got rich. The government needs to let MORE people get rich by staying out of the way. We need less regulation, not more. We need less taxes, not more. We need to let the market work.

    • Jim says:

      I think the tax return issue with Romney has nothing to do with his wealth, but what he might be hiding. Everyone knows Romney is rich.

  23. Drake says:

    Matt Yglesias had an interesting take that Romney may have had an illegal Swiss tax shelter, and he used the IRS’s 2009 amnesty period to get rid of that account. If true, that would explain why he’s OK with releasing the last two years but not 2009.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/07/17/romney_s_tax_returns_is_the_2009_swiss_bank_account_amnesty_what_he_doesn_t_want_us_to_see_.html

  24. Mike says:

    Yey, lets decide who our president is on how good the guy’s account is.

    I’d much rather decide it on how well the guy can run the country. These other issues are making me ill.

  25. doraflood says:

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander — Right now, all the Republican supporters are crowing that Obama hasn’t released his grade from school and they need physical proof that he was with the Harvard Law Review — they want Obama’s birth certificate and college diplomas. Even after the birth certificate was shown and verified by how many people…they still claim its fake…. Romney’s tax returns are much more important to the US Economy then rehashing birth certificates and college diplomas!!!!


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