Mitt Romney is a successful businessman and he has the tax returns to prove it! For this exact reason, Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is relentlessly seeking additional years of Romney’s tax records. The income tax returns every citizen files, including candidates running for public office, are considered private information and are protected as such. (In addition to tax returns, college transcripts are also protected as private information). It wasn’t until the 1970’s that presidential candidates began offering their income tax returns to the public.
Today, releasing this information is considered to be routine. Although this precedent is not founded in law, it is generally accepted as the norm. Now that Americans have come to define this as a part of the presidential election cycle, and promptly erased the notion that this information is indeed private, the foundation for a smear campaign aimed at a candidate’s wealth is established.
When a candidate does not release tax information, the insinuation is such that the candidate has something to hide. This implication is perpetuated by opponents to further tear down the character of the noncompliant candidate. However, this insidious implication is never truly analyzed by constituents to see that this is directly opposite of the constitutional tenet that an individual is ‘innoncent until proven guilty’.
Why might a candidate not wish to disclose their financial information? For the same type of reasons you clear your internet search history before your family, friends, or significant others come over.
Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has recently preyed on your ineffective understanding of the US tax code in suggesting that Mitt Romney pays less than you in taxes. The leviathan that is our tax code has many heads. Mitt Romney does not collect an income in the way that much of “middle class” America does, therefore the types of taxes he pays are not the same as the types of taxes a middle class American pays. Mr. and Mrs. Average American have a job in which they collect an hourly or salaried income upon which they are deducted income tax, Medicare tax, social security tax, state income tax, and local taxes, etc. Mitt Romney earns the majority of his income based on investments upon which he pays a ‘capital gains’ tax. For assets that Romney has held for longer than a year, he pays a “short-term” capital gains tax equivalent to the corresponding bracket income tax rate, a rate higher than middle class Americans. For assets that Romney has held for longer than one year, the “long-term” capital gains tax is applied at a rate that is below the income tax rate. A system such as this encourages long term investment, an essential element to any capitalist economy. Therefore, Mitt Romney is legally enjoying the lower taxes laid upon his long term investments in exchange for commitment to those investments, a logical and welcomed reward. The re-election campaign is exploiting the complex tax code and the average voter’s limited understanding of the US tax code to attack the integrity of Mitt Romney.
**The tax code (and reform) will discussed in length in posts to come. The topic is expansive and deserves your full attention. Explaining the topic in this point would simply not do it justice.
With two years of tax returns, Mitt Romney’s refusal to release further records, a voter demographic intent of finding out “what Mitt’s hiding”, and the convoluted US tax code the President’s re-election campaign is loaded for bear. All of this fuel fans the flames of the “Class Warfare” fire lit by the President. President Reagan had it right …
“Since when do we in America believe that our society is made up of two diametrically opposeed classes-one rich, one poor-both in a permanent state of conflict and neither able to get ahead except at the expense of the other? Since when do we in American accept this alien and discredited theory of social and class warfare? Since when do we in America endorse the politics of envy and division?”
-Ronald Reagan, CPAC, 1982