The Point of No Returns

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Mitt Romney refuses to release his tax returns. Here's why.

Rafalca and rider. (Reuters)

Hello from Hollywood! It has come to my attention via Twitter that Mitt Romney -- the former governor of Massachusetts and current spokesman for Gillette's new line of wealth-scented deodorants -- refuses to release his tax returns.

Here's what we know: One of Mitt Romney's returns did manage to escape through his baleen. And it says that former governor Romney previously paid a tax rate of only 13.9%. That's far below what most Americans pay, even though Romney's net worth is a giant mansion made of rubies and gold.

What is even more exciting is that even as he makes use of all these tax shelters and loopholes -- special magic things available only to the wealthy -- he has proposed raising taxes by as much as $2,000 on 95 percent of Americans. Good for him. That takes balls!

But that's not even the crazy part. Here's the crazy part. This tax return where he only pays 13.9 percent in federal taxes -- this bat to the sad, tattered piñata that is American fairness -- it's apparently the good return. This is the tax return he wants us to see! In fact, Mitt Romney would rather endure weeks of bad press for hiding the rest of his tax info than just PDF the damn things and be done with it.

Look, I don't think I'm spoiling the end of The Dark Knight Rises by saying that Mitt Romney is a political creature. He rarely surprises us, but he never surprises us by doing what isn't politically expedient. So we have to assume that he thinks all this secrecy is worth it. That's amazing!

What could be in those returns that is so ghastly? Well, because they're in a locked case in a vault in a spaceship owned by Chick-fil-A, it's anyone guess. Including mine! So here are a few guesses as to what has gotten Mitt Romney so nervous. Perhaps he's right to keep these line items from seeing the light of day...

Amount

Deduction type

Description

-$123,000 (est.)

Equipment Depreciation

Massive bulldozer for razing factories in the American Heartland (used too much, wore down blade bits)

-$14,249.42

Travel Expense

Super fun business trip to Italy!

-$77,000

Tax Credit

For the care and upkeep of a dancing horse; includes health care roughly equivalent to what a middle class human family would want if they could afford it. (FYI, this one is actually real! Wild!)

-$40,000

Secret Deduction Only Available to the Super Rich

US Title 26 Chapter 6 § 4b of the Federal Code for the Wealthy clearly states that "this galling deduction shall be lawfully used only by those so well off as to find the vast sum meaningless in their daily lives."

- $1.50

Deduction for Taxes Already Paid

Accidentally paid an obscenely small amount of tax on a massive multimillion-dollar paycheck which resulted from a leveraged buyout so complex that the deal cannot be processed until we reach the Singularity, at which time a giant computer named Bain will explain it to the surviving economically valuable adult people.

Or maybe Mitt Romney just used bullshit shelters and gimmicks to legally pay a disgustingly low tax rate for years and it would be embarrassing if the world knew.

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Jon Lovett is a writer based in Los Angeles. He previously served for three years as a speechwriter to President Obama in the White House.

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