In a deep dive into Mitt Romney’s tax returns, it turns out that the 2012 GOP presidential candidate paid about $44,000 more in taxes than he owed.
The New York Times is reporting that Romney’s return overstated capital gains realized by $300,000, forcing Romney and his wife to pay tens of thousands of dollars more than they were supposed to.
While the piece digs into the often mind-numbing details of tax credits and capital gains rates, the story is more about how endlessly complex the current U.S. tax code is – even for an accounting firm like PricewaterhouseCoopers, which prepared the returns.
For starters, Romney’s tax return was nearly 550 pages detailing everything from the income he still receives from his time at Bain Capital, his holding of stock in Goldman Sachs and an investment in the Ann D. Romney Blind Trust, which caused the overpayment in taxes, according to The New York Times:
As it happens, the investment was made in an account at Goldman Sachs maintained by the trust. An excerpt from the account statement is included in the return.
For some reason, Goldman said on the statement that it knew when the 1,775 shares of Goldman were bought, on Nov. 6, 2009, but not the purchase price. The shares were sold on Dec. 3, 2010, for $286,567, a price of less than $162 per share. Not knowing the cost, the Goldman statement showed that entire amount was profit, but put in a footnote saying “gains may be incorrectly stated and should not be used for tax reporting purposes.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that prepared the tax returns, seems to have arbitrarily assumed a cost of $9,820 for the shares, less than $6 per share, and reduced the profit by that amount.
The irony is that, at least so far, Romney is one of the few Republican nominees who isn’t calling for a radical overhaul of the U.S. tax code.