As a diversion from widespread attention being paid to his latest rhetorical screw-up, Mitt Romney's release of his 2011 tax return may have some value. As a basis for revealing how much the GOP presidential candidate pays or doesn't pay, on average, in federal income taxes, it leaves a lot to the imagination.
His decision to underclaim his deduction for charitable giving so that his tax total is higher than it would have been otherwise is further evidence of Romney's willingness to massage facts and his ability to change positions on a dime. Romney said not long ago that he paid all the taxes the law requires him to pay. But not for 2011. He paid more.
He paid an effective 14.1 percent tax rate, which he called "fair," but the rate would have been lower had he claimed the deductions he was entitled to based on the more than $4 million he gave to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other charities. The man who directs Mitt and Ann Romney's blind trusts said the couple limited their deductions to "conform" with Romney's statement that he has paid at least 13 percent a year over the past 10 years.