Friday, April 13, 2012

Presidential tax returns are none of our business

THE PUBLIC has a right to know how much income tax the president pays. Right? Wrong. Mitt Romney's dad (yes you read that right) and the media are the principal culprits behind this myth. I'll explain in a minute. First, the facts. Boiled down to its essence, the Constitution (Article II, Section 1) simply states that a president shall "receive for his services, a compensation." Batteries (and taxes) not included. In 1923, Warren G. Harding became the first president to pay income taxes after their national adoption via the 16th Amendment. But individual income tax returns — including Mr. Obama's — are private information by law. Disclosure is strictly voluntary. During the 1968 Republican primary, Gov. George Romney became the first presidential candidate to release tax returns. Like lemmings, almost every presidential candidate and incumbent have done the same since then. It's like the presidential compulsion to say "God bless America" at the close of every speech. Nothing wrong with that. But, really, it is kinda neurotic. And speaking of neurosis, we now come to the real Macbeth of this story. Every year at tax time, the press obsesses over the president's 1040 to let a thousand stories bloom. Yet, America is not (and has never been) much interested in combing through presidential tax returns. But the media is hell-bent on converting us into Turbo Tax fetishers like them. Whatever happened to simply minding our own business?

No comments:

Post a Comment