The Buck Starts Here

If they gave medals for tax deductions, W. Mitt Romney would get the gold. He managed to pay a tax rate in the low teens – at least for the one year of returns he partially released – while dodging additional taxes with strategies that include keeping offshore bank accounts.

Romney’s response: “my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law.”

What he does not say – ever – is it the view of the Internal Revenue Service he has always paid the taxes required by law.

Those are two very different statements.

Adding to the mystery of his taxes, Romney revealed a little more information this weekend: the IRS has audited him “from time to time”.

Perhaps Romney will share those audit reports.

Were any audits related to his Swiss Bank account? Was Romney ever handed a large multi-million dollar penalty for failure to pay taxes? Did the IRS share Romney’s view that he pays “all the taxes required by law”?

The answers would be in those documents.

Former Auto Czar Steve Rattner, who did not support the Obama campaign’s initial focus on Romney and his record at Bain Capital, told CNN that in surveying others who work in the private equity sector, he did not know anyone who went so far to avoid releasing tax documents as Romney.

“[Romney] has pushed the envelope all the way to the edge, to his benefit, and I think that Americans would find that pretty distasteful. I think it’s going to make Americans recoil, and that’s why I think he’s not releasing those returns,” said Rattner.

Included in this pushing of the envelope is a $77,000 tax deduction for the care and feeding of a horse.

Well, not just any horse. A ballet horse. Dressage is the French name of the sport that is often referred to as horse ballet, an elite equestrian sport.

It is also an Olympic sport and Rafalca, the Romneys’ dancing horse, is competing.

Regardless of whether the horse earns an Olympic medal, it has certainly helped Romney earn the Gold Medal in Tax Deductions.

Most American families do not make the $77,000 in a year, let alone have $77,000 to take care of a horse.

To see how Romney arrived at the large deduction, let’s look at how Rafalca’s needs stack up against those of the average American family:

Sheltering the average family for a year: $16,352; sheltering Rafalca: $28,800.

Clothing the average family: $1,142; clothing Rafalca: $10,000.

Annual health care costs for the average American family: $1,557; health care costs for Rafalca: $2,000.

Transporting the average American family: $7,164; transporting Rafalca: $15,420.

The comparison is striking. Families cannot receive tax deductions for their basic necessities, yet Mr. Romney claims massive deductions for the care and feeding of a horse.

It is fine to own and care for a horse. It is another to use it as a tax dodge.

Even more so, it is distasteful to aspire to public service while living such a double standard. Perhaps Romney should adopt a new campaign slogan: My Horse is Worth More Than Your Kid!

He might find the honest airing of his beliefs refreshing.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.