Will We Ever Get to See Romney's 2011 Tax Return?

I don't know about you, but this year I filed my taxes just before the April 15 deadline. Most people do. But if you need to, you can file for an extension from the IRS. That's what Mitt Romney did. And if you look around the discussion about his taxes, you'll find that everyone keeps referring to the "two years of tax returns" Romney has agreed to release. But what people don't mention is that Romney hasn't actually released two years of tax returns. He released one year, his 2010 return (and even that was incomplete). But we haven't seen his 2011 return. He keeps saying he'll release it when it's ready, but is it going to be ready before November?

In fairness, Mitt Romney's taxes are really, really complicated. He has so many different income streams and accounts and pass-throughs and roundabouts and double-flipping financial McTwists that it takes a team of accountants to prepare the documents. His 2010 return ran to more than 200 pages. But it's August. Maybe someone should ask whether the accountants are making progress.

My guess is that for the next three months, every time the question comes up, Romney will say that the return is being prepared, and he'll release it as soon as it's ready. And then lo and behold we'll get to election day never having seen it.

From Romney's perspective, this makes perfect strategic sense. Nobody seems interested in the 2011 return, so there isn't much cost to putting it off, and if he does release it, that'll mean a couple of days of stories about all the interesting stuff it contains. It's essentially the same calculation as he's using on the rest of his returns: there's a cost to not releasing them, but it's evidently smaller than the cost he anticipates from releasing them. So, voters: No tax returns for you!

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