General Question

miki's avatar

Why are the candidates submitting their tax returns?

Asked by miki (210points) January 19th, 2012

I’m just starting to pay attention to politics so I’m obviously not familiar with the ropes. But what difference does it make for the candidates to show how much money they make, or owe? Why is this important?

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17 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

It isn’t really important, the opposition is just hoping there is something in the tax returns they can use against their opponents. And the media is hoping for a gotcha moment.

mrrich724's avatar

“Mitt Romney is out of touch with the public suffering through the recession” is what they are trying to prove. And he’s the one who has to show it b/c he’s the one who’s in the lead AND it goes well with their claim that he’s made big profits from taking away peoples’ jobs.

It’s just a tactic to knock him off the top of the totem pole . . .

He’s already come out and admit that he has off-shore accounts in the Caymans, but NOT to dodge taxes . . . MMMMMM HMMMMM. And he doesn’t want to show it until a time frame after he (hypothetically) wins the nomination.

So I’m sure they will dig up something, should he do us the honor.

I only make $40k a year, and I can produce my taxes instantly, so the fact that he wants to wait three months should speak volumes.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@mrrich724 Obama did not disclose his until he had been named the official candidate of the Democratic party. Why should Romney or any Republican be required to go above and beyond what the Democratic party expects from their candidate?

miki's avatar

Does this topic come up each election year, or is this thing with Romney something outstanding?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Some election cycles it gets more exposure than others, but it always seems to come up.

mrrich724's avatar

B/C He said he’ll do it anyway, so why not just do it and squash the idle chatter?

If he’s going to do it, why not just do it and get it over with, I guess is my point.

chyna's avatar

To show they are honest. Did you just hear my eyes roll?

miki's avatar

So there is no financial requirement to run for office. R. Paul stated earlier on the debate that he’s not going to post his because he’d be embarrassed of his low income compared to the others.

Blackberry's avatar

To point out hypocrisy. It seems pointless, but with the current political climate of our leaders not giving a shit about us, I see no problem with it.

ETpro's avatar

@miki Welcome to Fluther, and congratulations on asking a great question.

All candidates for federal office have to file a financial disclosure form, and it can be validated by the IRS, who already does have their tax filings. There is no legal requirement that presidential candidates release their tax returns. The high comedy of politics is that It’s been customary since Mitt Rooney’s dad, George Romney released 12 years of his returns when running for the nomination in the 1968 primaries. He said showing one year or even 5 years wasn’t enough, because knowing he was going to run, he might have filed them for show purposes. The Joke is his son doesn’t want to release any, and if at all, just the one he will have his accounting firm write in April after he has hopefully already won the nomination, and which he can tailor just for public release. There is no question that that return will show him paying the maximum legal rate of 2011 income.

The returns that would really tell us something about Mitt Romney’s use of tax shelters and quasi-legal cheating would be those between 1984 and 1999 while he was the CEO of Bain Capital. He may have hundreds of millions in income he has not yet paid any taxes on, and will not have to pay on till he dies. He may have tens of millions hidden in offshore tax shelters. There is no earthly way he will ever release anything that shows that, far from paying 15% on his $200 million plus of earnings since 1984, he has actually paid more like 5% while his secretary probably pays 30% on her income.

The question it goes to is who the nominee puts first, the people of America or self interests. Do we want a person leading our country who could care less about it and its ordinary people, and puts his own interests above all else? That’s why it matters.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t care what Romney’s tax return says as long as the return was done in compliance with current tax laws. What I care about is what does he want to do about the tax laws if he gets into office. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet take advantage of current takes laws, but if they were running for office the would look to raise taxes on the rich, or get rid of some write offs and loopholes, which would result in a percentage of the rich paying more even if tax brackets remained the same.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie He has told us that. He plans to raise taxes on the bottom 20% of taxpayers, leave them where they are for most of us, and decrease his own by 10%. Money wise, he’d be better off to support Gingrich, who wants to raise taxes on the working poor by 60% and eliminate all taxes on capital gains, meaning Romney would only be taxed on what he called a little money (Actually $374,000 in 2011) he got for speaking engagements.

Nullo's avatar

Political armor, mostly.

zenvelo's avatar

Part of it has to do with the fact that tax rates are an issue this campaign, with Republicans complaining that they pay such a burden. But then we find out Romney’s effective tax rate is 15%, lower than that of most middle class taxpayers.

@WestRiverrat, this is not a democrat/republcian deal, and has nothing to do with Obama in 2008. This is all between republicans.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I wasn’t trying to say he hadn’t told. Only that what I care about is his plans, not his personal tax return. But, thanksfor the details. I hadn’t been listening closely to the Republican candidates. I am waiting for them to pick someone before I spend a lot of time listening or researching.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie In this wild free-for-all where there is a daily new frontrunner, that strategy probably makes great sense. I’m just a hopeless wonk.

bkcunningham's avatar

Presidential wannabes from the major political parties started releasing their personal income tax information in the early-1970s after President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. There’s been controversy surrounding the candidates and their vice presidential running mates releasing the info during the run-up for presidential election. From Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton to John Kerry and Dick Cheney; the media will always find a good headline.

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