This is How Mitt Romney Avoided Paying Taxes For 15 Years by Using the Mormon Church’s Tax Exempt Status
Republicans and Democrats alike have called on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, all to no avail. Romney has refused to release the bulk of his returns and claims that his refusal is based on the belief that Democrats will pick apart his returns and use them against him.
However, it has now come to light that Mitt Romney may be refusing to release his returns because he didn’t pay taxes for multiple years, maybe as many as 15.
Bloomberg news reports that in 1997, Congress cracked down on a tax shelter which allowed people to avoid taxes by taking advantage of the tax exempt status of charitable organizations. But as part of the deal, people who’d already set up these tax havens were allowed to keep them. Mitt Romney set up one of these tax avoidance trusts in 1996:
The charitable remainder unitrust, as it is known, is one of several strategies Romney has adopted over his career to reduce his tax bill. While Romney’s tax avoidance is legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become an issue in the campaign. President Barack Obama attacked him in their second debate for paying “lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less.”
According to the information Bloomberg obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, this tax strategy left Mitt Romney with a tax rate of at or near zero.
“The main benefit from a charitable remainder trust is the renting from your favorite charity of its exemption from taxation,”said Jonathan Blattmachr, a trust and estates lawyer who spoke with Bloomberg. Regardless of the name, giving a gift or getting a charitable deduction “is just a throwaway,” he said. “I used to structure them so the value dedicated to charity was as close to zero as possible without being zero.”
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