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Romney trustee's letter raises further tax questions

 In the same week a secret video exposed him saying 47% of “dependent, entitled” Americans don’t pay income taxes, Mitt Romney disclosed a relatively


In the same week a secret video exposed him saying 47% of “dependent, entitled” Americans don’t pay income taxes, Mitt Romney disclosed a relatively small amount of information about his own taxes— that he paid 14.1% in 2011. That’s about half the percentage of what an average worker earning $60,000 annually would pay.

Romney’s disclosure of his 2011 returns didn’t do much for Rev. Al Sharpton, who told PoliticsNation viewers: “The question remains. What is in [the rest of] his tax returns is he afraid of showing the public?”

The Romneys have said many times they will release no more than two years of returns. However, their accountant/trustee Brad Malt wrote a press release-style letter on Friday addressing the issue, going a step further and releasing a certified summary of his tax returns over a two-decade period preceding 2010. According to the letter, from 1990-2009 the Romneys paid an average of 20.20% in income taxes and the lowest they ever paid was 13.6%.

Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell told Rev. Sharpton that math doesn’t logically explain Romney’s refusal to answer to the 63% of Americans who want to see more returns:

“If the Romneys paid 14-20% anyway, and this year it says they paid 14% at the low end of the spectrum, then why wouldn’t you release the last 15-20 years and put this issue to bed? It’s very curious. It makes me more curious than before the accountant released that letter.”

Rev. Sharpton also spoke to author and tax expert David Cay Johnston about another interesting excerpt of Malt’s letter. It reads, “In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.”

Johnston took issue with the word “owed”:

“Among the possibilities the word “owed” raises is, there was an audit that resulted in a large payment of taxes later because they underpaid their taxes, an amended tax return by the Romneys, or an obligation they didn’t pay for some number of years.”

So, Johnston wrote the Romney campaign and asked why the statements said “owed” instead of “paid.” In an increasingly characteristic move, the campaign’s response was, "We’re not answering that question." Johnston wasn’t impressed:

“The trouble I’m having with that is very simple: This is an issue Romney needs to shut down, and yet at every juncture he’s taken actions that just lead to more questions. And what does that tell us about the man’s judgment? Because the only test we have when you’re going to be president of the United States is what do you do when faced with the unexpected? Well, this is the expected and he doesn’t seem to be dealing well with it.”