Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
So Ann Romney told Good Morning America this morning that she and her husband had released "all (you) people need to know and understand about our financial situation." (There is some dispute from the video whether she said "you people" or simply switched from saying "all you need to know" to "all people need to know" mid-sentence, whatever).
Well, no actually, Ann, you have not even produced the full 2010 tax return. You see, there is a very important disclosure document missing from your 2010 tax returns. Steve Benen summarizes in The twists and turns of tax returns:
[I]t turns out that the one year of materials we do have -- Romney released his 2010 returns earlier in the year -- may be incomplete, leaving the public with zero full reports to scrutinize. The Huffington Post reports that documentation related to his Swiss bank account is legally required, but has not been released. Does this really matter? Actually, it does.
By serving as a curtain between Romney's U.S. accounts and his foreign holdings, Romney's Swiss account could shield many financial activities from American scrutiny. Hypothetically, any politically unpopular investments, clever and complex asset sales designed to lower Romney's tax bills or other activities would be far more difficult to decipher.
Greg Sargent also had a good report on this, stressing the importance of understanding how Romney may have gone about reducing his tax liabilities. When Greg checked with the Tax Policy Center's Joseph Rosenberg about this, he confirmed that today's revelation is another piece in the broader pattern: "There could be assets abroad that wouldn't necessarily be shown in the standard tax return, but would be on this other sort of disclosure form. What are these accounts, and what is the purpose for having them?"
The Romney campaign has not yet explained this need for so much secrecy.
Hmmm, I have a theory.
Doesn't anyone remember the Swiss Bank (UBS) scandal? Swiss in talks with U.S. over untaxed funds | Reuters:
U.S. officials have said they are investigating other banks after UBS paid $780 million in 2009 to settle tax evasion charges.
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The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a U.S. bill adopted in March 2010 that forces non-U.S. banks to automatically share a vast amount of information regarding the bank dealings of their U.S. clients.
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In 2009 Berne agreed to hand over to Washington bank data relating to 4,450 clients of UBS, piercing a hole in Swiss bank secrecy laws.
Could the Romney family Swiss bank account have been among the client data turned over by UBS to the U.S. Justice Department in 2009? Was the Swiss bank account reported on earlier tax returns? Did the Romney family take advantage of the Swiss bank account "amnesty" program in 2009? Was the Swiss bank account reported in 2010 only in response to the IRS FBAR amnesty program?
Matthew Yglesias at Slate shares my suspicion. Did Mitt Romney Take the 2009 Swiss Bank Account Amnesty:
[Romney] was actively running for president in 2007 and 2008. That means it's relatively unlike he was doing anything during those years that he thought couldn't withstand scrutiny. So why not release a nice even five years of tax data? Perhaps because of something that happened in 2009.
Wealthy U.S. taxpayers, concerned about an Internal Revenue Service crackdown on the use of secret overseas bank accounts as tax havens, are rushing to meet a Thursday deadline to disclose those accounts or face possible criminal prosecution. The concern was triggered this summer when Switzerland's largest bank, caught up in an international tax evasion dispute, said it would disclose the names of more than 4,000 of its U.S. account holders.
The decision shattered a long-held belief that Swiss banks would guard the identities of its American customers as carefully as they did their money, and it raised concern that other international tax havens might be next. Under an amnesty program, the IRS is allowing taxpayers to avoid prosecution for having failed to report their overseas accounts. As a result, tax attorneys across the nation have been besieged by wealthy clients who are lining up to apply even though they will still face big financial penalties.
Romney might well have thought in 2007 and 2008 that there was nothing to fear about a non-disclosed offshore account he'd set up years earlier precisely because it wasn't disclosed. But then came the settlement and the rush of non-disclosers to apply for the amnesty. Failing to apply for the amnesty and then getting charged by the IRS would have been both financially and politically disastrous. So amnesty it was. But even though the amnesty would eliminate any legal or financial liability for past acts, it would hardly eliminate political liability.
So Willard "Mittens" Romney is opposed to "amnesty" for DREAMER children of undocumented immigrants, but he accepts "amnesty" for tax evasion by wealthy U.S. investors such as himself in Swiss bank accounts. The media needs to demand Romney produce the Swiss bank account disclosure form, and to ask questions about the Swiss bank account amnesty program.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a post about this as well. Is the FBAR FUBAR?