The Washington Post

Let’s dig deeper into Mitt Romney’s taxes

But Romney’s tax bill isn’t something to be dodged. And tonight, two days before the South Carolina Republican primary is as good a time as any to shed light on how the richest presidential candidate in Republican Party history made and has managed to hold onto his money.

It’s not a question of nosiness or envy of the rich. At issue, as noted in a Wall Street Journal article today by Mark Maremont, is whether Romney used his offshore holdings to help him “avoid paying an obscure but hefty tax of as much as 35% on some of those investments, held in a tax-deferred account.” That obscure but hefty tax is the “unrelated business income tax” which, as Maremont reported, is intended to stop tax-exempt entities, such as instruments owned by Romney, from “unfairly competing with for-profit, taxpaying entities by operating a business without paying taxes on it.”

To say, as the Romney campaign does, that the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive’s investments are in compliance with the rules doesn’t answer the question of whether Romney was practicing a little (or big) tax avoidance.

Expect the moderators or Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to pursue Romney’s financial dealings. It would be a shame if they didn’t.

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column -- sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics -- on that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.

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