There is a lot of speculation as to why Romney has not released his tax returns. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points to a possibility that Romney didn’t pay taxes in 2008 or 2009.
“As a member of the ultra-rich, Romney probably wasn’t spared major losses. And 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. If true, this would be politically deadly for him. Even assuming that his return was thoroughly clean and legal — a safe assumption, it seems to me — the fallout would dwarf the controversy that attended the news that Romney had paid a tax rate of only 14 percent in 2010 and estimated he’d pay a similar rate in 2011.”
If this is the case and it not impossible, but highly improbable, Romney would be smart to hold his tax returns close to his chest until after the convention. Once he becomes the official Republican nominee, then he will release his tax returns and deal with the consequences. The GOP will provide cover in that aspect, if he paid a very low tax rate or if he didn’t pay taxes at all.
You see, if Romney released his tax returns now before the Republican convention, and they showed no taxes paid in those years, there would be pandemonium in the streets of Tampa, especially amongst the Ron Paul supporters. This would be catastrophic for party unity.
How could Romney not pay taxes? Well, one way would capital losses. During the crash of 2008 and 09 he could have lost a boat load of money which would obviously help lower his tax obligations. Also, as Greg Sargent points out, some tax analysts believe he could be using highly sophisticated tax shelters to escape U.S. taxes as much as possible.
All of this would be perfectly legal, but it would be politically damaging and deadly. This is why I believe he will wait until after the convention when he finally secures the Republican nod.
Once he seals the Republican deal, he will release he returns and go on a media tour explaining it away.