There’s a growing trend in politics today. Complete financial disclosure. While we still find out about hidden connections with large corporate partners, destructive marital affairs and all sorts of inappropriate behavior in the work place or with coworkers, many of the so called skeletons in the closet are being served up on a platter. Today’s special, tax returns.
Mitt Romney is facing pressure from his GOP rivals about his earnings, and more importantly, his income tax rate. When asked, he stated he probably pays around 15%, which is the national long-term capital gains tax rate. Approximately 20% less than the standard income tax rate for wealthy Americans. “I have nothing in them that suggests there’s any problem and I’m happy to do so, I sort of feel like we’re showing a lot of exposure at this point,” Romney replied. Certainly true, but by today’s standards, very much the “norm”. Rick Santorum said he already released his 2011 tax returns and Newt Gingrich would be soon to follow, releasing his sometime this week.
This is far from the first we’ve seen of this. It’s common place for those in office to disclose their federal income and gift tax returns. President Obama and Vice-President Biden displayed their 2010 tax returns on the White House website. During the election race of 2004, every single democratic candidate released their returns as well as republican incumbents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. In fact, the trend has been growing since the mid 70′s, starting with Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. In 1984 pressure to release statements certainly didn’t help Mondale and Ferraro’s election chances as Ferraro’s return showed a payment of over fifty thousand dollars in back taxes. In the last few decades, only 1 out of 5 presidential and vice-presidential candidates choose not to release their federal tax returns. Clearly, the standard is being set. If you’re looking to run for office, talk to your accountant first.