A closer look at Romney’s real-estate problem

Updated
 
A closer look at Romney's real-estate problem
A closer look at Romney's real-estate problem
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One of Mitt Romney’s mansions seems to have generated quite a bit more attention than the others. The beachfront home in La Jolla, Calif., was bound to raise more eyebrows – it’s the one Romney is quadrupling in size, adding a car elevator and a “subterranean mansion.”

But the L.A. Times has a fresh look at the story today, noting some details I hadn’t seen before (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).

Mitt and Ann Romney were easily able to afford a $12-million La Jolla home. But that didn’t insulate them from the winds buffeting the real estate market in the months following their purchase in 2008.

After paying cash for the Mediterranean-style house with 61 feet of beach frontage, they asked San Diego County for dramatic property tax relief.

Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee for president whose wealth is estimated at $250 million, has rejected calls from Democrats and Republicans to release his income tax returns prior to 2010. But San Diego County assessor records shed light on one sliver of the couple’s personal taxes during that time: a months-long effort to reduce their annual property tax bill.

Now, it’s jarring enough that someone who hasn’t earned a paycheck in a decade can pay cash for a $12 million beachfront mansion. It’s also odd that Romney hired a lobbyist for his house.

But in this story, we learn that Romney desperately wanted local officials to believe his home had lost nearly half its value a mere seven months after he bought it. Why? So he could pay less in taxes.

As it turns out, the local assessors weren’t going for it, and the Romneys had to settle for a more modest reduction. But did the candidate really have to fight to lower his property-tax bill after he’d already paid cash for a car-elevator mansion?

Housing, Wealth and Mitt Romney

A closer look at Romney's real-estate problem

Updated