The Bain Files: will 954 pages of Bain’s financial documents reveal anything?

Joe. My. God. explains what this is about: 

Gawker has posted 954 pages of previously unseen and labyrinthine Bain financial documents which they say may reveal proof of Mitt Romney’s attempt to cloak his massive holdings in tax-proof domestic and offshore accounts.

Bain isn’t a company so much as an intricate suite of steadily proliferating inter-related holding companies and limited partnerships, some based in Delaware and others in the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and elsewhere, designed to collectively house roughly $66 billion in wealth in its many crevices and chambers. When Romney left in 1999, he and his wife retained significant investments in many of those Bain vehicles—he claims they are “passive investments” and that they are managed in a blind trust (though the trustee isn’t blind enough to meet federal standards of independence). But aside from disparate snippets of information contained in his federal and Massachusetts financial disclosure forms, his 2010 tax returns, and SEC filings, the nature of those investments has been obfuscated by design.

Gawker says that the documents are so deliberately vague and complex that they cannot begin to decipher what they actually say. They are asking forensic accountants and their readers to dig in.

Bain Documents: Romney Offshore Investments Used ‘Blockers’ To Avoid Taxes – ABC News (via: sarahlee310)

The private equity firm founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made use of arcane techniques in several of its Cayman Islands-based funds to avoid U.S. taxes, according to a trove of Bain Capital’s private audit and finance records made public on the website Gawker today.

The audited financial statements of one of the Cayman Islands funds make note of the use of “blocker” entities, which are used to help retirement accounts and nonprofit entities avoid some taxes. Financial statements for another fund note that it “intends to conduct its operations so it will … not be subject to United States federal income or withholding tax …”

Those details emerge on the statements of two funds in which Romney still holds a sizeable investment, according to the financial disclosure statements he filed when he announced his bid for president.

The publication of the Bain Documents on the Gawker website could rekindle debate about Romney’s role at the company, and specifically about Bain’s decision to domicile many of its funds in offshore locations known as tax havens.

Fortune‘s Dan Primack calls the documents “worthless” and says he had them months ago…

Alex Seitz-Wald homes in on one discovery:

[O]ne immediate revelation is that Sankaty fund, based in Delaware for tax purposes, lent over $3 million to Las Vegas Sands, the casino company owned by Adelson. The fund made two loans of $2.4 million and $600,000 in 2009 to the Sands. Romney’s IRA held between $250,000 and $500,000 in the partnership, and made $50,000 and $100,000 from it in 2011. Adelson has become the largest donor to the Republican Party and conservative outside groups, dropping at least $70 million

Mitt’s tax returns and the politics of envy (we’re all envious about his effective tax rate)

Pages and pages are devoted to foreign entities in which Romney is invested. Many are located in places like Luxembourg, Ireland and the Cayman Islands, all famous tax havens. None shows much income. “These entities are not evading one dime of taxes.” — Brad Malt, Romney’s trustee

“I will not apologize for success.” The Huffington Post

Bowing to increasing political pressure to provide more detail about his vast wealth, the former private equity executive released tax returns indicating he and his wife, Ann, paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. They expect to pay a 15.4 percent rate when they file their returns for 2011.

Wow, his taxes will GO UP from 13.9 percent to 15.4 percent? No wonder Mitt wants even more tax cuts for the wealthy / himself. If he paid 13.9 percent in 2010, I wonder what effective tax rate he paid in prior years…

Romney’s tax rate is below that of most wage-earning Americans because most of his income, as outlined in more than 500 pages of tax documents, flows from capital gains on investments.

Under the U.S. tax code, capital gains are taxed at 15 percent, compared with a top tax rate of 35 percent for wage earners.

Wage earners are disposable plebeians. That’s why we pay a higher effective tax rate on our incomes.

[...] Romney’s campaign officials stressed that his tax rate is based mostly on income from investments that are held in a blind trust. Romney’s holdings include an undisclosed amount in funds based in the Grand Cayman Islands and other overseas entities.

Romney advisers stressed that the holdings in the Caymans – along with those in a Swiss bank account that was closed in 2010 after an investment adviser decided it could be politically embarrassing to Romney – were reported on tax returns and were not vehicles to avoid taxes.

Sure. Of course that has to be SAID. We’ll never know, one way or the other. Can you imagine how many “Romneybot, Inc.” accountants, campaign managers, and public relations personnel worked 24/7 to give us the return that was released today?

They also stressed that Romney, whose holdings are in three blind trusts, makes no decisions as to how his money is invested.

Hahaha, you see? Mitt doesn’t know how his $250 million is managed or in which foreign accounts in the Caymans and Switzerland it’s hidden! He just spends it! Trust him.

What’s a Blind trust? It’s a trust in which the fiduciaries, namely the trustees or those who have been given power of attorney, have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in their handling. Blind trusts are generally used when a settlor (sometimes called a trustor or donor) wishes to keep the beneficiary unaware of the specific assets in the trust, such as to avoid conflict of interest between the beneficiary and the investments. Politicians or others in sensitive positions often place their personal assets (including investment income) into blind trusts, to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflicts of interest when they direct government funds to the private sector. — Wikipedia

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who is calling for raising taxes on high-income Americans, said he blames Congress, not Romney, for the governor’s tax rate. “It’s the wrong policy to have,” Buffett told Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu in an interview yesterday. “He’s not going to pay more than the law requires, and I don’t fault him for that in the least. But I do fault a law that allows him and me earning enormous sums to pay overall federal taxes at a rate that’s about half what the average person in my office pays.” —  Warren Buffett speaking about capital gains tax rates vs. earned income tax rates