What we can learn from Romney’s Tax Returns.

Well, it’s about time.

Last Friday (in a strategically timed late afternoon press release), the Romney campaign finally released a tax return, in response to months and months of his opponents pushing for him to do so (and a hacker group announcing they had a copy of their own).


I mean seriously, Rom, it took you longer to fork this over than it did Obama to dig up his birth certificate (and we all knew which one of those things was a more legitimate, issue based, request, right?).

One of the problems with the tardy Romney release, regardless of what it said (read this article for all the non-juicy details), is that it came, oh, less than 50 days before D-day.  And, since he has taken such a long time to come clean with the American people, guess who is more fired up to find something scathing within the documents?  If he had just let us have the stuff a year ago, we’d be over it by now.

So what can we learn from this PR misstep?

At some point in your career you’re going to be faced with questions that you may not want to answer, for whatever reason, justifiable or not.  These questions may be from the press.  Or they may be from partners.

You can try to avoid them and see if they go away . . . but most likely, if it’s an important enough issue, your avoidance will only increase the other party’s desire to get an answer.  Keep avoiding, and you’ll end up like Romney, getting forced into a corner and having to give the answers to a more venomous public at a very non-convenient time.

No, better to answer when first (or second) asked, so you don’t appear defensive, and so you have plenty of time to explain/spin your response, and so your answer has time to dissipate.

Or better yet, answer before there is even a question.


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  • LA Producer says:

    Misstep? Because Senator Harry Reid, without any corroboration, tells the public that Romney hadn’t paid any taxes? People really believed Mitt Romney didn’t pay any taxes?! Egad. You distrust Romney because he shows his return two month before the election? Why isn’t the fact that Romney puts so many Democrats to shame with his charitable not mentioned? And applauded? (This IS theatre after all.)

    When will we see President Obama’s college transcripts? When will there be a vetting of the President’s past by the press? Feel it’s really unfair to put Romney under a microscope without doing the same to Obama.

    Forgot. This is the “Obama will finish what he started” blog. 😉

  • Randy Hobler says:

    Ken, normally I agree, it’s best practice to get the
    truth out early and get it behind you. However, the
    fact that Romney has adamantly refused to release even
    a few more years of past tax returns–even in the
    face of common practice–even in the face of his own
    father releasing 12 years of returns–means that the truth in this case will be devastating and he simply
    can’t release these returns. I strongly suspect that the truth involves aspects of his tax sheltering in the Cayman Islands and in Switzerland, that, if released,would instantly ruin his chances for election.

  • I’m lost cause I fail to realize how his tax returns are any of our business. I’m not an auditor, if there’s an issue let the IRS handle it.

  • max gilman, cpa says:

    I personally could care less about Romney’s returns as well as Obama’s returns. What percentage of the American public even bothers to look at those returns. So you leave it up to others to look them over and research them, and then you trust them with what they think, if anyone even bothers to read that. Seriously, who has the right to complain about Mitt Romney being in the 15% bracket when he pays over $2 Million in tax. I’ll bet you couldn’t add up 100 of your closest friends taxes and get half way there in taxes paid. Let’s talk about how for 16 years before 2008 the unemployment rate hovered around 4.5% and now its “down” to 8.3%. Only about 15 million people not working who should be. Now that’s something everyone should be concerned about. Romney’s taxes? I’ve got much more to be worried about (i.e.-IRAN; and cowtowing to the Muslim world when we should be defending Our Freedom of Speech” something none of the Arab countries have or will ever have.

  • Gotta love how even the mere mention of politics can get someone’s hackles up.

    You make an excellent point, Ken. Hopefully not all of your readers will overlook it because of the way you chose to illustrate it. It’s not easy to jump in front of an unpleasant issue, but you’re right. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping things will go away only tends to make things worse. Being proactive and making an effort to take care of issues early on (even unpleasant ones) can prevent a lot of grief.

  • Larry S. says:


    Without commenting on the content and whatever that reveals (which I tend to agree is no one’s business other than the IRS and if it is legal, it is legal), I have to fault your whole issue as to timing of this return. You are talking about the 2011 year (last year). A 2011 return (that is on extension) is not due to IRA until 10/15/12! This return is over 350 pages long (how long is yours; mine is less than 50 with all my schedules). It is not at all surprising that it took until now just to get it done. I prepare over 500 tax returns a year, and the vast majority of them are filed under the extension rules because it just can’t all get done in the few months that make up the normal extension. He did say he would release it when it was done, and he has apparently done so. To challenge him on the timing of the release just shows a lack of understanding of the work that the accountants have to do to provide an accurate return under the enormously complex rules of our tax system.

    Ken, in your posting you say if he had just let us have it a year ago it would all be over now; how do you suggest that happen when a year ago, 2011 hadn’t even ended???

    He released his 2010 tax returns (over 550 pages when including his trusts!!!) in January. I just think you have fixated on the wrong piece of the pie when your concern is the TIMING of this tax return release (which is still several weeks before it is due at IRS).


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