Romney has been taking a lot of flack for not releasing his tax returns for his Bain years. He has basically been accused of hiding something. While it might look that way to some, there really is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim. Frankly speaking, Romney’s tax returns aren’t that relevant to the campaign.
Romney’s stint with Bain capital ended in 1999 with his involvement in the Olympics. That’s over twelve years of tax returns. In other words, he is being asked to release more tax returns than even President Obama has released at this point. At eight years, President Obama would need to release at least four more years in order to match that same number. So in all fairness, there should be an additional four years that should be demanded from President Obama.
But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is this quick judgement that he is hiding something. Unfortunately for those who choose to make this argument, there is no supporting evidence to back this statement up. In other words, there is no investigation by either the SEC or the IRS into these past tax returns. Especially with the IRS, a high income earner like Romney will get scrutinized on his tax returns. Yet, there has been no indication of an audit on those tax returns.
He actually has a very good reason for not releasing more of them. It is called the Obama campaign. Those tax returns are like giving fire to the enemy. It can be used against him. It is kind of like a defense lawyer uses the victim’s character against them. The problem is that Romney uses a lot of different tax laws than the average person who files. There is no 1040EZ forms in his taxes. They are hundreds of pages long, and many of the tax laws are unfamiliar concepts. So if the Obama campaign gets a hold of them, they can basically spin whatever they want about the numbers without regard of the fact that the rules were followed. No one except the real tax experts would really be any the wiser. This makes the non-release more of a political strategy move.
Remember, there are also documents that people want from President Obama. They are just as insignificant in the overall scheme of things but like the tax returns, they can be used against President Obama in much the same manner. However, tax returns have no bearing on the actual eligibility of being President. There is nothing in the US Constitution that states that the President has to release them.
The other argument is that because his father released his tax returns, Mitt Romney should, too. It should be pointed out that it was to a very political distinct advantage for Mitt Romney’s father. He was the first to do so. It is the simple fact of him being first, that gave him the advantage. Now in politics, it is no longer really an advantage but an expectation. So, there is really no political advantage for Mitt Romney at this juncture.
Most other Presidents have actually waited until after they were elected to release tax returns. Even then, a few of them only released one or two years. It certainly didn’t matter in their campaigns.
At this point, there is no political advantage for Romney to do so despite calls from both sides. But it has every chance for a political backfire even with perfect tax returns.