A couple of weeks ago, we posed a series of questions for Mitt Romney regarding his refusal to release any of his pre-2010 tax returns. At the time, it was widely reported that Romney had released his 2010 tax return. It turns out, however, that Romney had apparently withheld a key portion of his 2010 filings as he has not disclosed a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”), which would provide details regarding Romney’s offshore bank accounts and investments.
As the IRS website explains:
If you have a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, or other type of foreign financial account, the Bank Secrecy Act may require you to report the account yearly to the Internal Revenue Service by filing Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
The FBAR is required because foreign financial institutions may not be subject to the same reporting requirements as domestic financial institutions. The FBAR is a tool to help the United States government identify persons who may be using foreign financial accounts to circumvent United States law. Investigators use FBARs to help identify or trace funds used for illicit purposes or to identify unreported income maintained or generated abroad.
Romney’s 2010 tax return revealed that he had offshore bank accounts or investments in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and at least four other countries. As such, he almost certainly should have filed an FBAR for 2010 and for numerous other tax years. Yet Romney has not publicly released a 2010 FBAR, or any other year’s FBAR, to the public.
In this installment of Questions for Mitt Romney, we poses a series of questions that reporters should ask Romney and his campaign staff, and that the public should demand answers to:
- Did you file an FBAR in 2010? If not, why not?
- If you did file a FBAR in 2010, why haven’t you released it to the public?
- If you did file a FBAR in 2010, identify each foreign bank account or investment identified in that FBAR and the value of each such account or investment.
- Have you filed an FBAR for any other year? If so, what year or years? And what foreign bank accounts or investments were identified in those FBARs?
- Did you disclose any FBAR filings to the McCain campaign in 2008 when you were being vetted as a potential Vice President candidate?
- In 2010, you had a $3 million bank account with the Swiss bank UBS. In 2009, the US Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement with UBS regarding claims that UBS helped thousands of Americans hide taxable assets. The IRS soon thereafter established an amnesty program that allowed Americans who had failed to disclose foreign investments and accounts to do so (and pay back taxes and a penalty) without fear of criminal prosecution within a prescribed period of time. At least 12,000 Americans took advantage of the 2009 amnesty program, and another 30,000 did the same with a 2011 amnesty program. Were you, Mr. Romney, one of the people who took advantage of the 2009 amnesty program? If so, did you retroactively file FBARs?
- Unlike with a tax return, an FBAR requires disclosure not just of foreign accounts that generate income, but also of foreign accounts that only executed transactions, such as assets sales designed to avoid tax liabilities. Assuming you have filed an FBAR for 2010 or any other year, do those FBARs identify any foreign accounts that were not identified in your tax returns? If so, identify those accounts and the assets held in them.
The questions about Romney’s quarter-of-a-billion dollar fortune keep piling up. Many of those questions would likely be answered if Romney would release twelve years of tax returns, as his dad George Romney did when running for President, and any FBARs filed during the past twelve years. Until the Romney campaign does so, the main question on finances remains, “What are you hiding, Mitt?
* * * * * * * * * * *
Earlier editions of this series include Questions for Mitt Romney on immigration, health care reform, his tax returns and $100 million IRA, Romney’s “blind” trust, the NRA and guns, military service, Jerry Falwell and Liberty University, Robert Bork, and Ann Coulter.