As they say in the business, the “optics” are bad on this revelation. Apparently, Mitt Romney has stashed millions of dollars in an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands.
There is absolutely nothing illegal about it and Romney claims to have paid all applicable US taxes on income earned from the money. That said, simply saying the words “offshore account” is likely to be seen as damaging to Americans who are suspicious of rich people trying to hide their money.
“I can tell you we follow the tax laws,” he said recently while on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. “And if there’s an opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow that opportunity.”
But tax experts tell ABC News there are other reasons Romney may not want the public viewing his returns. As one of the wealthiest candidates to run for president in recent times, Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.
Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital, the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.
Romney campaign officials and those at Bain Capital tell ABC News that the purpose of setting up those accounts in the Cayman Islands is to help attract money from foreign investors, and that the accounts provide no tax advantage to American investors like Romney. Romney, the campaign said, has paid all U.S. taxes on income derived from those investments.
“The tax consequences to the Romneys are the very same whether the fund is domiciled here or another country,” a campaign official said in response to questions. “Gov. and Mrs. Romney have money invested in funds that the trustee has determined to be attractive investment opportunities, and those funds are domiciled wherever the fund sponsors happen to organize the funds.”
The Romney campaign can explain that everything is on the up and up from now until the Caymans are washed away because of global warming and it won’t do a bit of good. This is an attack issue for the Obama campaign and you will almost certainly see it mentioned prominently in upcoming Obama ads.