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Even the right is asking for the returns

ELINOR R. TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 7/19/2012, 3:29 p.m.
When guidance counselors need to care

Swiss bank accounts, oodles of cash stashed in the Cayman Islands, an IRA worth $100 million, fuzzy math about when he actually headed up Bain Capital and only two years of tax returns so he can hide whatever skeletons are in his humongous tax closet; Mitt Romney is not a man of honor.

If he were, this would be a very different campaign. When he stands in front of throngs of people and says ,"I'm convinced he [President Barack Obama] wants Americans to be ashamed of success," it is ludicrous.

Romney is a very rich man with accounts all over the globe. He has reluctantly released two years of his tax returns, but no more.

What is funny is that this practice of releasing returns was actually started by his father more than 40 years ago in his bid for the Republican nomination for president. George Romney released 12 years of his tax returns and ever since, presidential nominees have been more transparent with the public about their personal finances.

So why is he hiding his finances? Could it be worse than the fact that in the last two years, he has paid less than 15 percent in taxes annually? Could it be that before 2010, he did not pay any tax at all? Or is it even worse?

Reluctantly, Romney did disclose on Tuesday that he has been paying a far lower percentage in taxes than most Americans, around 15 percent of his annual earnings.

How much of this is the truth we just don't know. And he is not telling--in fact, he is complaining that people are focusing on it instead of the other issues facing America. Well, it seems as if he is complaining about something he could take care of immediately by just releasing his taxes.

But I doubt that will happen anytime soon. While he is raking in millions of dollars a year, he gives away under $3 million to charity, or about 15 percent of his $21.6 million income. While that is a sizable amount of money to donate, where that money actually went is no surprise.

Over half of his donations went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church). The church requires members to tithe 10 percent of their annual income to stay in good standing with the church. The rest of the money went to the Tyler Foundation, a 501(c3) organization funded by the Romneys.

In 2010, the Obamas gave about 14 percent of their income to charity. They made less than 10 percent of Romney's annual income, yet they gave at almost the same rate.

I agree with several tax experts who view Romney as the poster child of what's wrong with our tax system.

What is Romney trying to hide? America is a land of opportunity; if Romney made all that money fair and square, so be it, but if he rigged the system to his benefit, Americans need to know it. We need to know if there is an honest man running for president or just another rich guy trying to get over on the poor and the working class.

The 99 percent want to know how Romney, a representative of the 1 percent, actually made, grew and kept his money. And, like even some of his colleagues on the right, we want answers now.