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My tax returns that have already been released number into the hundreds of pages. And we will be releasing tax returns for the most current year as soon as those are prepared. They will also number in the hundreds of pages. In the political environment that exists today, the opposition research of the Obama campaign is looking for anything they can use to distract from the failure of the president to reignite our economy. And I’m simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about.

Well, first of all, all of my investments are managed in a blind trust. By virtue of that, the decisions made by the trustee are the decisions that determine where the investments are. Secondly, the so-called offshore account in the Cayman Islands, for instance, is an account established by a U.S. firm to allow foreign investors to invest in U.S. enterprises and not be subject to taxes outside of their own jurisdiction. So in many instances, the investments in something of that nature are brought back into the United States. The world of finance is not as simple as some would have you believe. Sometimes a foreign entity is formed to allow foreign investors to invest in the United States, which may well be the case with the entities that Democrats are describing as foreign accounts.

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“And to somehow allege that there was something wrong with his tax returns with no factual evidence with no basis whatsoever is the kind of Chicago sleaze-style campaign that’s being run by the Obama campaign,” McCain told reporters. The Arizona senator added that he personally vouches for the fact that there was nothing in the returns that would be disqualifying — the returns were reviewed as part of the 2008 vice presidential nominee selection process. …

“(Palin) was the best fit for our campaign,” McCain said, “but we’ve taken an answer on why I selected her and not Romney and twisted it into some interpretation that is obviously not the case.”

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The question is what could be in them that would be so damaging to the Romney campaign. Right now, the most popular theory is that Romney simply didn’t pay any federal taxes at all in 2009. As Joshua Green wrote, ” It’s possible that he suffered a large enough capital loss that, carried forward and coupled with his various offshore tax havens, he wound up paying no U.S. federal taxes at all in 2009.” …

But the tax experts I’ve spoken to are skeptical. “Romney had a $4.8 million capital loss carryover coming into 2010,” says Edward Kleinbard, a professor of tax law at the University of Southern California. “So that means no capital gain income in 2009. If you look on the first page [of his 2010 tax return], though, he had lots of ordinary income (interest mostly), and dividends, which are taxed at the same rate as capital gains but which cannot be sheltered from tax by capital losses. So presumably he had some positive income tax in 2009.” …

But Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at New York University, isn’t so sure. “I think there’s an excellent chance that [Romney] didn’t pay any taxes in 2008 or 2009,” he says. But to get from a small federal tax liability to no federal tax liability, Romney would have needed to engage in incredibly aggressive tax planning. Shaviro mentions picking loser investments to get some benefits from “loss harvesting,” unusual tax shelters, and a bevy of other stuff that, frankly, I don’t totally understand.

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“Politically, I think that would help him,” the Republican congressman and former presidential candidate said in an interview with POLITICO. “In the scheme of things politically, you know, it looks like releasing tax returns is what the people want.” …

“It’s a shame. The important issue is [what] the two candidates seem to agree on. They don’t really disagree with militarism overseas, they don’t disagree with the Federal Reserve system and the bailouts, and they don’t disagree on basically whether the role of federal government is wealth redistribution through welfare. So instead, they’re talking about tax returns and that to me is so disappointing,” he said. “It’s all a charade, I think it’s all contrived to not have a debate.”

Asked to speculate on why Romney has so far refused to hand over more returns, Paul replied, “I have no idea.”