Archives: Attacks on Mitt Romney over tax return issue are unfair

Originally published in January 2012
Simon Nguyen

Few presidential candidates in history have faced more pressure to make available their tax returns than GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. Despite the fact Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have also not released their tax returns, as revealed in a South Carolina debate, the former Massachusetts governor is being singled out by the media. The hyperbole scrutiny of Romney’s tax returns reveals bias in the part of the media.

If Romney was a salaried man with less than 8-digit figures in his bank account, he would not have faced the same pressure to release his tax returns as he is now. People love a narrative. A successful and wealthy businessman must have a lot of skeletons in his closet, and hence we need see his tax returns. Even if Romney decides to release his tax returns at this instance, the media will follow up and demand to see returns from previous years and decades.

What the media seems to forget is that they are journalists and not auditors. It is the job of the IRS to scrutinize Romney’s tax returns for problems. All the media will do is scouring the Michigan native’s returns for politically inexpedient details and magnifying them. The decision to release tax returns should be his to make and for the public to judge.

Legally, Romney has the right not to disclose his tax returns. Moreover, the former Massachusetts governor is only a candidate and not the president. If Romney is elected to the presidency, he will likely follow traditions and release his tax returns every year of his term. The media obsession over Romney’s tax returns gives the impression that presidential candidates are required to make public their returns, which is incorrect.

Ultimately, it is more prudent for Romney to release his tax returns as soon as possible to temper the controversy. To his credit, the Michigan native has indicated that he will make available his tax returns in April. Four years ago, GOP nominee John McCain also released his tax returns in April. All in all, Romney’s wealth is expected to continue to be a hotly debated topic in the 2012 Republican race.

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