What would the reports have to contain to disqualify Romney?

I’m not American, but I’ve been following the debate about Romney’s taxes with a fair amount of amusement.

I DON’T want to comment on whether he should, or should not release his taxes. Nor on what the Democrats would do with the info.

Rather, could we keep this very narrowly to the topic.

In your mind, just what would the returns have to contain to effectively disqualify Romney from the election?

A few stipulations here that I would make before starting

  1. Let’s assume that there is nothing outright illegal in the returns
  2. Let’s further assume, for the sake of not nitpicking to death (ala, he paid sales tax on a candy bar, so he did pay tax) that “zero taxes” means an effective tax rate below 5%

So what would it be? If he was shown to have used his political position to further his own business goals “unethically” (eg voted for Halliburton to be sole contractor for Iraq after buying their stock, buying Enron then signing an act for more drilling rights) would that do it?

Would a stupidly low tax rate do it?

How about investments that were seen as “unpatrtiotic” - would that be enough?

What do you think - just what would the returns need to contain to disqualify him?

I’m not going to vote for Romney even if these tax returns are eventually released and it shows he paid more than Obama in taxes, so I can’t really say what would disqualify him.

I think most Americans who are on the fence between Obama and Romney would be very sick if he actually paid less than 10% effective rate… I can’t imagine him winning if he came out with returns that low.

But obviously I’m biased here so I can’t really say.

I think if it were revealed that Romney had murdered and raped children, and he was arrested, tried, and convicted of those crimes before November, he would still receive a sizable portion of the vote. There are plenty of people who will not vote for Obama no matter what. For some of them, they will vote for anyone else.

I wouldn’t go as far as the other fellow (about being convicted of rape and murder), but I agree that probably at least 30% of voters will not be swayed by anything in the returns – either they think that it’s a fine thing to pay the very minimum in taxes legally possible; or they care more about, say, abortion; or they get all their news from Fox and Limbaugh, and will be led into believing this is all some kind of dirty trick.

Since close to half the voters are already going to vote for Obama, that just leaves 20% of mostly independents for whom it will make any difference. Not being one of them, I can only hope that aggressive use of foreign banks and tax shelters would be enough to make them think that Romney’s cares more about his wealth than his country.

That said, I don’t think we need to see Romney’s returns. His extremely disingenuous pretense that he didn’t know whether he had paid less than 13% in recent years, combined with reneging on his promise to look into it for ABC, is IMO really all we need to know. I would be amazed if he didn’t have several years of single digit tax rates.

Romney is already ‘disqualified’ for me personally for issues not related to his tax status.

Technically, if nominated, he wouldn’t be disqualified unless it was found out that he was too young or not a natural citizen. I’m pretty sure the rape conviction wouldn’t technically disqualify him and he would still get a certain amount of the votes (see statement above).

Things that I believe SHOULD disqualify him that could appear on his tax returns:

(a) Any current investment in Iranian Oil and other similar conflict of interest foreign investments. (he needs to release the rest of his 2010 return and ALL of his 2011 return as a minimum)

(b) Taking advantage of the Swiss bank account amnesty program (so, essentially he was a tax cheat and admitted it in order to get it straight without paying a penalty)

There are plenty of other reasons that I think Romney is an embarrassing choice for POTUS, but they wouldn’t show up on his tax return.

It would be most damaging if his tax rate were < 5%. Also, some of the charitable contributions could be damaging- let’s say he gave $10K to Planned Parenthood in 2002 or something, that would re-ignite the old flip-flop business. Or maybe some offshore accounts with some disreputable nations. I imagine heavy investments with the Syrians wouldn’t play too well.

I echo the sentiment that there are X% (in my estimation 40%) who will vote for him even if he was revealed to be the Zodiac Killer. And there are maybe 45% who will vote against him even if he gave hundreds of millions of dollars to shelters for cute kittens and in his spare time found a cure for cancer. It’s that 15% or so that haven’t made their selection that would decide if what’s in the returns is a dealbreaker.

A donation to Planned Parenthood would probably only be bad for his base - there are lots that would like it yes?

Personally, I think the conflict of interest is the most likely - combined with a very healthy dose of extremely low taxes and that amnesty.

I really really hope that there are multiple years of returns released before the election - if for nothing more than so I can point and laugh at him.

Those who would be pleased with such a donation (like myself) aren’t voting for him anyway. But there would be legions of right wingers who would cough up hairballs on hearing the news.

Not a problem for Romney. He’ll just say he didn’t make the donation. If it improves his polling he’ll say he did make the donation and always was a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood. And he’ll say he didn’t say that he didn’t make the donation. He really is a political guinness.

IOW, He retroactively didn’t pay it until the polls showed it was popular.

I thought he wasn’t allowed to drink Guinness.

I watched The 3 Stooges the other day. Couldn’t help using it.

Strictly speaking Enkel is correct in that technically a candidate could only be disqualified based upon failing to meet the constitutional requirements (natural born citizen, age, and years of residency) for the office of President.

Tax returns do not disclose specific investments, so there would be no detail on which stock(s) he purchased and when. However FBAR filings do contain greater level of detail on overseas accounts. (Filer has $X in account number Y in ACME Financial Institution in Foreign Country Z) The newly created FATCA requirements also delve into overseas account information.

Similarly I don’t recall tax returns requiring disclosing to which charity(s) donations were made. Of course Romney would need the paperwork to back it up if he was audited.

They would have to contain proof that he is not a natural born citizen.

Or that he’s not thirty-five years old yet.

Unaccountably, the fact that he’s a Republican, even if it was in the reports, would not be sufficient to do the job. That’s very odd. That goes beyond odd, in fact. It just ain’t right.

I’m not sure I understand. Are you asking what would make Romney unelectable? Or are you asking what I personally might find unacceptable? I assume you’re not asking a constitutional question.

Yes, the OP means to ask what would be damning enough to ruin his chances of either election or getting the GOP nomination - not what would legally disqualify him from the race.

As others have said, there’s not going to be anything in his returns that will actually disqualify him.

What might be in his returns that would cost him votes would be proof that he paid a small enough amount in taxes that it shocked or upset voters.

Sorry -

I should have been more careful.

I didn’t mean disqualify in terms of legally preclude, more like make such a bad impression that for all intents and purposes the election became unwinnable, OR so bad that he lost the nomination.

I don’t think there’s any tax avoidance or even evasion that’d put off his voters. For those to whom taxes are an insurmountable burden on the magnanimous man, any scheme is justified in not paying them. The deficit is just a rallying cry for cutting government programs, if they actually considered it an obstacle they’d consider raising taxes. Their real concern is dismantling government in order that they more effectively study transactions, without any remnants of concern for the poor.

To be fair, there’s an analogue in the drug legalisation camp. If one is unconcerned with personal drug consumption, the revelation that a candidate in favour of legalisation broke the law in order to consume drugs isn’t going to be a deterrent.

All they need to do is tell the truth: once the public realizes how little Romney has been able to pay legally, he will lose the vote of some independent voters who would otherwise have voted for him. Game over.