Harry Reid said that he knew a guy who knew that Mitt Romney did not pay any Federal Income Taxes for ten years. He mentioned it last Tuesday and it was clear that Harry was talking about Federal Income Taxes. This has sent many to the fainting couch. Conservatives howled and so did the worshipers of false media balance. Also queasy were pundits, progressives and Democrats who are uncomfortable when anybody on their side is at ease throwing a sharp elbow or landing a solid hit to the gut. And Harry Reid’s second hand claim about Mitt Romney’s taxes is a solid hit.
Of course Romney could clear it up by following in his father’s footsteps and releasing 12 years of his Federal Income tax forms. He could do this, but he won’t. He has things to hide.
Today–in a very rare moment when he let a few carefully chosen and GPO-friendly press members ask him question–Mitt issued a denial:
“I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes,” Romney said. “So Harry is simply wrong.”
The issue is: did Mitt ever have a year when he paid zero Federal Income Taxes.
There are lots and lots of different kinds of taxes we all pay. Mitt could have paid–and most likely did pay–lots and lots of property taxes every year. He had three to five estates every year over the last dozen years and his taxes on just his Utah estate were over $42,000 in 2007 and over $50,000 in many other years–and that was just one of his estates. And then there would be other local taxes, state taxes and taxes on various business entities that Mitt owned. And in any year when Mitt actually worked, he would have paid Social Security on his first $106,000 of recorded income.
Mitt could pay all those taxes and then use those payments, loopholes and shell corporations to bring his Federal Income Taxes to zero or at least a rate far, far less than the rate 95 percent of Americans pay.
So, Mitt’s statement, “I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes” is a classic non-denial denial. Of course he paid taxes. What he didn’t say was that he paid Federal Income Taxes every year. His denial is not specific about the type of taxes he paid. His Federal Income Tax payments and the amount or rate he paid for each of the last dozen years is an open question. It will continue to be a fair question to ask and to speculate about until he releases his taxes. Until Mitt provides those returns, it is quite fair to assume that there were years when he used loopholes to pay nothing. His non-denial denial today was just so many more words added to his predictably rancid word salad.
After all, Mitt Romney is very comfortable telling lies–big and small.
Perhaps Harry Reid is wrong about Mitt Romney, but I would need to see 12 years of Mitt’s taxes to confirm that. Without hard evidence to back him up, there is zero reason to take Mitt Romney at his word about anything. Anybody who trusts anything Mitt says is a fool.