Romney had deflected hits like this before but oddly, after running for president for six years, he had no clear response to this very obvious thing that was going to come up at some point. He explained that he was following the law and didn't have to release anything but maybe would in a few months anyway. In one South Carolina debate, when the moderator pointed out that his father, George Romney, voluntarily released 12 years' worth of tax returns in his 1968 candidacy (he lost) and asked whether Mitt would do the same, his response was "Maybe." Innocent darling Newt Gingrich noted that he paid a 31% tax rate last year, like an honest man would.
The poison pens of the media, meanwhile, were examining his offshore investments in the Cayman Islands. This didn't help.
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What's in his tax returns
He made $20.9 million last year and $21.7 in 2010 — off years, sure, but just enough to put a steak on the dinner table every now and then. Most of this came from investment income like dividends, capital gains, and carried interest, which is taxed at 15%. He made great use of charitable deductions, too, giving away $7 million in the last two years, $4.1 million of which went to the Mormon church as a tithe. After that, what he wound up paying was an effective 15.4 percent ($3.2 million) of his 2011 gross income and a 13.9 percent ($3 million) of his 2010 gross income.
They're about as predicted. The most embarrassing nugget, though, is probably that he had a fancy-sounding Swiss bank account that was closed in 2010 because advisers thought it could be "politically damaging." Well, now it's going to be politically damaging because you said that, suckers.