If it weren't so shameful it would almost be funny.
The Republican presidential candidates, even if only unintentionally, made it clear in the latest installment of their unmercifully long string of debates, why they have been resisting the releasing of their tax statements.
Romney has finally released one year's worth of returns - his 2010 document. Even though it is easy, when you release just a year, to doctor things up so they look pretty good, the Romney returns for that one year pose at least six major problems.
First, they show he has a lot of offshore tax shelters.
Second, they show he paid less than 13.9 percent of his income in taxes during the year 2010, which is far below what most American workers pay.
Third, they show that the reason he paid so little in taxes is that his income comes from capital gains on investments and taxes on capital gains are far below what workers pay on their hard-earned wages.
Fourth, they show that he has undisclosed amounts of funds hidden in the Cayman Islands and other overseas locations. Since the amounts are undisclosed it can be assumed the sums stashed in those shelters could be quite large.
Fifth, workers can't pay the low tax rates Romney pays because they don't earn money from capital gains and they don't have overseas tax shelters.
Sixth, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from his one year release is that for most of the other years about which he released no information he probably paid even less or perhaps even nothing in taxes.
All these problems haven't stopped Romney from proposing a tax plan that would actually cut what little taxes he did pay in half. Romney proposes a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires, including himself, that is twice as large as the tax cuts engineered by George Bush, when he was president.
Then we have the Gingrich plan which calls for the elimination of all taxes on capital gains and the institution of a flat rate 15 percent tax for everyone, regardless of income.
Gingrich bent over backwards during the Florida debate to assure Romney that he had no problem with Mitt paying as little as he did. "I just want everyone else to pay the low rate you pay," said Gingrich.
It wasn't lost on Romney, of course, that under the Gingrich plan, Romney would pay no taxes whatsoever!
It's no surprise that Gingrich has no problem with Romney's avoidance of taxes.
According to Forbes Magazine, Gingrich avoided tens of thousands of dollars in Medicare payroll taxes by classifying most of his income from two companies he owns as profits and dividends, therefore avoiding the payroll tax. The IRS has long been on to this type of scheme and has consistently disallowed it.
Then, after Romney accused Gingrich of influence peddling and demanded he release documents regarding his work for Freddie Mac, Newt Gingrich released a "contract" that the New York Times described as "legal boilerplate" and that contains no details about the advice he gave or ways in which he made use of his political contacts to benefit the people paying him.
Despite his absurd insistence that he was never a lobbyist, the contract showed that Gingrich was hired by the division of Freddie Mac responsible for lobbying - and that Gingrich was paid $300,000 for his "non" lobbying.
Romney's sanctimonious attacks on Gingrich about this matter on Monday in Florida were also quite disgusting. ThinkProgress pointed out today that Romney's own investments in Freddie Mac have netted him tens of thousands of dollars in income.
President Obama is expected to call in his State of the Union Message for fairness in taxation. As he has in the past, he is expected to insist that the wealthy in this nation pay their fair share of taxes. This is the view of the overwhelming majority of Americans. On the question of taxes, as on so many other issues, the Republican presidential hopefuls are swimming against the tide.
Hopefully, it will be only a matter of time before they sink.