On Mitt Romney's Millions In Cayman Island Offshore Tax Havens
While the news that Mitt Romney has joined Warren Buffet in the "my secretary makes more than me" 15% tax club has come and gone, even as America appears largely confused or dismissive that Romney, at least on paper appears to be precisely the puppet that Wall Street wants put in charge, we are not so sure how it will react to discovering that in addition to all of the above, Romney also holds a substantial of his assets deep offshore, in the much maligned recently Cayman Islands. As a reminder, it has long been Obama's "tax-policy" to force repatriation of virtually all individual tax holdings held abroad, both legally and illegally, much to the detrimental collapse in the UBS business model. Yet apparently when it comes to potential future presidents, loopholes are quite welcome. Especially when as ABC reports, "the offshore accounts have provided him -- and Bain -- with other potential financial benefits, such as higher management fees and greater foreign interest, all at the expense of the U.S. Treasury." As a reminder: "Rebecca J. Wilkins, a tax policy expert with Citizens for Tax Justice, said the federal government loses an estimated $100 billion a year because of tax havens." But who needs taxes when America can just print all the money it will need to fund its deficit in perpetuity. Just ask the Neo-Keynesians. Perhaps all these are questions that the candidate that so hard is trying to channel Ronald Reagan and so far failing, can finally address once and for all, before he moves into one of his patented Obama bashing subject changing routing.
More from ABC:
Although it is not apparent on his financial disclosure form, Mitt Romney has millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven.
"His personal finances are a poster child of what's wrong with the American tax system," said Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who is an authority on tax enforcement and offshore banking.
On Tuesday, Romney disclosed that he has been paying a far lower percentage in taxes than most Americans, around 15 percent of his annual earnings. It has been Romney's Republican rivals who have driven the tax issue onto center stage. For weeks, Romney has cited a desire for privacy as his reason for not sharing his tax returns -- a gesture of transparency that is now expected from presidential contenders.
But tax experts tell ABC News there are other reasons Romney may not want the public viewing his returns. As one of the wealthiest candidates to run for president in recent times, Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.
Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.
The official spin:
Romney campaign officials and those at Bain Capital tell ABC News that the purpose of setting up those accounts in the Cayman Islands is to help attract money from foreign investors, and that the accounts provide no tax advantage to American investors like Romney. Romney, the campaign said, has paid all U.S. taxes on income derived from those investments. Bain officials called the decision to locate some funds offshore routine, and a benefit only to foreign investors who do not want to be subjected to U.S. taxes.
And the reality:
Tax experts agree that Romney remains subject to American taxes. But they say the offshore accounts have provided him -- and Bain -- with other potential financial benefits, such as higher management fees and greater foreign interest, all at the expense of the U.S. Treasury. Rebecca J. Wilkins, a tax policy expert with Citizens for Tax Justice, said the federal government loses an estimated $100 billion a year because of tax havens.
Blum, the D.C. tax lawyer, said working through an offshore investment vehicle allows the investor to "avoid a whole series of small traps in the tax code that ordinary people would face if they paid tax on an onshore basis." Wilkins agreed, saying the "primary advantage to setting those funds up in an offshore jurisdiction like the Cayman Islands or Bermuda is it helps the investors avoid tax." "It helps U.S. investors avoid U.S. tax," said Wilkins, "it helps foreign investors avoid taxes in their home country, so it's not illegal or improper to set those funds up in a foreign jurisdiction, but it makes it more attractive to investors because it helps them avoid paying taxes on that income."
And so forth.
In conclusion all we can say is that just like our Treasury Secretary, who almost did not get appointed to the job after it was discovered he cheated on his taxes, only to blame it on TurboTax software, the next great tax avoidance symbol will be none other than America's next possible president. Only this time we fail to see how TurboTax - the Offshore Tax Avoidance EditionTM will get the blame.
Which only confirms, once again, that America always and forever, will get precisely the president it so richly deserves.
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