Sympathy for the terrible

I feel for Mitt. My tax returns are complicated too.

I have investments scattered all over the globe, the odd bit of this and that, here and there – two box factories in Chicago, a couple of floors in the One57 (Bob Costas wanted to buy one of the apartments off me for twice what I paid, but I told him to go fuck himself in the ear (it’s going to be bad enough living next to the fucking Beckhams)), a couple of ad agencies, cattle ranching and wool in Argentina, gold and uranium mining in Australia (I pay my workers three times market rates, just to piss off that bitch Gina Rinehart), a little discreet organ harvesting in China, a pile of gold in a safe in George Town (along with some very salacious photographs of Joe Biden and a ski bunny, complete with two sets of bunny ears), three coffeshops in Amsterdam, assorted trusts (family, blind and “going on”) and a nifty little Swiss Verein that owns more Apple shares than I am allowed to admit – all of them with their various profits and deductions and capital losses and tax amnesties, across seventeen tax jurisdictions with 92 different filing dates.

Then there’s my charitable and political donations – my church (we’re trying to rebuild the steeple after Father Eustace drove a dumptruck into it three weeks ago while under the influence of too much altar wine), the greenies, the godbotherers who want to go to Africa, the saving of various endangered fluffy things, no less than fifteen young men in Brazil and Botswana whose villages have access to clean drinking water and modern gymnasium equipment on my purse, sundry donations and purchases for local council members, two mayors, three governors, fifteen reps, seventeen senators, two cardinals, one president and a sizable annual bequest to the St Filbert’s Home for Wayward and Orphaned Boys in New Orleans, of which I am the founding patron.

Each month, when I get to the Spokane offices of my accountants, Bumble, Curtin and Run (an English firm which has handled my family’s finances since just after the Battle of Flodden Field), I have a coffee and perhaps a little eclair in the client drawing room while the young Mr Bumble (the great to about twenty grandson of the original Mr Bumble) tries to find his pants and my file. Each month, I am ushered into his office – the poor man always looks thoroughly flushed – and I am confronted with a pile of about thirty two hundred pages, all of which I am supposed to have read, all of it festooned with red and purple and yellow stickies denoting various levels of importance, bound together with a summary file which has a summary memo clipped to the front, which has a section marked “Conclusions” right at the very top, which is printed in big print and short soothing words, and which essentially reads just like Mitt’s PWC memo.

Let me tell you, that fucker is the only bit I have ever read. I pay five hundred bucks an hour for Senior Clerks to read that shit for me. I just flip to the “sign here” stickies and sign away.

Still, small sympathy aside – after all, I am not running for President – I am filled with a feeling not too dissimilar to schadenfreude (if I weren’t 93 I could get away with a Mittelschmerz joke here) seeing Harry the honey badger getting his teeth right back into Mitt’s trouserleg.

Reid has been quick to dismiss the PwC letter, calling for Romney to release the full returns and saying in a conference call with Nevada reporters that an “outline by some accountant about his blind trust, that’s not going to do it.”

The lovely Imani (is that what we’re calling you now, dear?) has picked on one of my favorite bits – that Mitt admits on the record that he didn’t claim $1.75 million in charitable deductions in his 2011 return, with all of the contradictions and ability to get his money back that that entails.

Benjy Sarlin at TPM (via Sullivan, I think) goes even further:

Did Romney artificially inflate his tax rate using the same strategy in other returns? That’s the biggest question raised by the disclosure of his move to take fewer deductions in 2011.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to questions over whether Romney amended any of his previous returns

Ryan Grim at Hufflepuff (from whence that first quote came) has a great round up of other glaring holes in Mitt’s letter. For starters, Grim notes:

According to the letter from PwC avowing the number, it is based on Romney’s adjusted gross income. That means that, for instance, if Romney made investment profit of $20 million, but had losses of, say, $19.9 million, his adjusted gross income would only be $100,000. Paying 20.2 percent of $100,000 would cost Romney just over $20,000.

If Reid’s comment is interpreted strictly — that Romney paid literally $0 in taxes over 10 years — then the PwC letter undermines that charge. But if Romney paid only a very small amount — say, $20,000 on $20 million — it would be hard to award Reid many pinocchios for calling that nothing.

Hee. Glenn Kessler will forever be a punchline. Life is just sometimes.

Grim (who is doing sterling work) notes that:

Romney’s claimed rate is misleading in another way. Boston College tax law professor Brian Galle noted that Romney’s IRA has grown since 1999 at a rate of roughly $9 million to $10 million per year. Yet he pays no taxes on those gains. Adding $10 million to his 2011 income of $13.8 million, for instance, nearly doubles it, meaning his tax rate is roughly half of what his real gain was.

while over here Grim quotes Mr Galle on Mitt’s takes backsies charity bit.

Grim points to Greg Sargent, who has an interview with Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center about PWC’s claim that “Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.”

“Let’s say you have 10 years in which you paid 13 percent in taxes, and 10 years in which you paid 27 percent,” Williams told me. “If you average those rates, you’ll get an overall rate of 20 percent. But if the 13 percent years were high income years, and the 27 percent years were low income years, then his total taxes paid as a share of total income over the 20 years would be less, perhaps significantly less, than 20 percent.”

I warn you, don’t click on these next links. This sums up the mood at the Corner:

Mitt Romney’s tax release shows that he is rich, that he makes most of his money from investments, and that he gives a lot of it to his church. Politically aware people knew all of these things already. So unless there is a big surprise in the fine print (e.g., a contribution to the National Association of Puppy Stranglers), the release is unlikely to have much impact on the race.

while there’s radio silence on the whole thing at Red State, although Erick who was Begat by Erick does have time to point out that Hopey McChangeburger is a loser and a crook and a terrorist, and to solicit funds to buy Mountain Dew and porn and paintball billboards.

The time has come for us to launch our National Billboard Campaign. We have invested in the printing of 24 “Get Hope, Fire Obama” billboards, 2 per swing state; we just need you to find a home for them. For $1,500 you can put up one of these billboards. You get to pick which key swing state you would like your billboard to go in. We are targeting these 12 key swing states:

SELECT HERE TO PUT UP YOUR BILLBOARD!

Florida Ohio Virginia

North Carolina Pennsylvania Wisconsin

Iowa Colorado Missouri

New Hampshire Nevada New Mexico

And Mr Krugman hasn’t even posted about Mitt’s tax returns yet.

I suspect this is another Romney fail. Oh, happy day.

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