Mitt Romney — July 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Mitt Romney: American tax cheat


Freedom isn’t free, Mitt.

Two explosive acts of real journalism this week have the Romney campaign rocked back on their heels. The wealthy Romneys, already struggling to connect with average Americans, are now revealed to have offshore bank accounts and investments that allow them to avoid paying substantial taxes to the U.S. government.

The first came from a Vanity Fair piece:

To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as ‘a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.’ … Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in ‘jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,’ as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.

That’s not the only money Romney has in tax havens. Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this. {…}

These, plus the mandatory financial disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics and released last August, raise many questions. A full 55 pages in his 2010 return are devoted to reporting his transactions with foreign entities… The media soon noticed Romney’s familiarity with foreign tax havens. A $3 million Swiss bank account appeared in the 2010 returns, then winked out of existence in 2011 after the trustee closed it.

Then, this one from the Associated Press:

For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose.

Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign. The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.

Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney’s wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records obtained by The Associated Press. The Romneys’ ownership of the offshore firm did not appear on any state or federal financial reports during Romney’s two presidential campaigns. Only the Romneys’ 2010 tax records, released under political pressure earlier this year, confirmed their continuing control of the company.

Offshore accounts in tax-avoiding tax havens. Transferring accounts to his wife’s name. Swiss bank accounts. This the Republicans’ nominee for president, a man who is so patriotic that he will do whatever it takes to avoid paying his fair share of taxes.

The Obama campaign has latched onto this like a bulldog. First, they released this statement via National Press Secretary Ben LaBolt:

Today we’re learning more about Mitt Romney’s bets against America. Vanity Fair’s raising important questions about Romney’s offshore accounts in foreign tax havens, including his mysterious corporation in Bermuda, his funds in the Cayman Islands, and the Swiss bank account he opened. The question is, why? Was he avoiding paying his fair share of U.S. taxes? Was he hedging against the dollar? Until he releases his tax returns from that period, Americans will never know. This raises serious questions. If he has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he just release his tax returns?

It also sheds some light on who helped Romney finance Bain Capital’s first fund. He turned to several anonymous corporations, trustees, and questionable investors in countries like El Salvador, Switzerland, the Bahamas, and Panama. Why not bet on America? This raises many questions about Romney’s finances, but it confirms something we already knew: Mitt Romney’s economic philosophy has always put maximizing his profits above anything else. Even if it means refusing to bet on America and its workers.

Here’s the infographic they prepared:

Click for a larger version

And, finally, this video which asks a few average Americans if THEY have offshore bank accounts where they can hide their money and avoid paying taxes:

Nobody I know of begrudges Mitt Romney his insane level of wealth. We DO, however, ask him why he doesn’t pay back the society that allowed him to create that humongous pile of money. Romney didn’t get rich by himself. It was the fact that he is American and operates in a country that gave him opportunities across the board to create that wealth. Without all of the things America offers, Romney would not be the millionaire he is today. Part of our social contract is that you pay back into the system that allows you to succeed.

That means we pay taxes.

Mitt Romney is avoiding that in every imaginable way possible.

Mitt Romney: American tax cheat.