We can only speculate as to why Mitt Romney refuses to disclose more of his tax returns, but one of the leading theories has to do with the tax rate the very wealthy candidate has paid. Thanks to loopholes, Romney already pays a lower rate than most of the middle class, but thanks to his creative accounting, it's possible years went by in which he paid nearly nothing.
ABC's David Muir sat down with Romney in Israel yesterday, and asked the question in a good way.
MUIR: [F]rom what you have released and from what we have seen we know that there was one year when you paid about 13.9% tax rate. Can we clear this up by asking a simple yes or no question? Was there ever any year when you paid lower than 13.9%?ROMNEY: I haven't calculated that. I'm happy to go back and look but my view is I've paid all the taxes required by law. From time to time I've been audited as happens I think to other citizens as well and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job pay taxes as legally due.
Muir picked up on the key phrase in there and asked, "You said you would go back and look. Would you look for us?" Romney was noncommittal in his response, saying only, "I haven't looked at the tax rate paid year by year."
So, it's possible Romney paid a tax rate much lower than the rate paid by working people, but he's not sure. He's "happy to go back and look."
As it turns out, I consider that encouraging. For months, those of us reporting on this issue have wondered whether Romney was able to get away with paying next to nothing in taxes, but the Republican candidate hasn't been willing to disclose or go into any detail. Now, however, he's "happy to go back and look."
Wonderful. Follow-up question for Romney and his campaign aides: when, exactly, will he happily go back and look? What kind of documentary evidence will he provide to bolster the results of his findings?
And while he's happily looking for the answer to that question, is there any chance that Romney, as part of a commitment to disclosure, might release the findings of those audits?