ABC News site posts Aspen mayor’s tax returns | AspenTimes.com

ABC News site posts Aspen mayor’s tax returns

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – What do Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, a Democrat, and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Republican, have in common?

Not much, except that A) they are both politicians and B) people want to look at their federal tax returns.

After Ireland and other Democratic leaders held a telephone news-conference call a week ago and provided prepared statements last week asking for Romney to release several years of tax returns, ABC News asked Ireland to do the same.

Ireland told The Aspen Times on Sunday that he didn’t mind releasing the tax returns to ABC News, and he complied. He added that there’s a big difference between asking Romney for his tax forms and asking the mayor of Aspen for the same thing.

“I’m not running for president,” Ireland said. “I think the tax returns are relevant when the person who is able to control the tax policy is able to benefit themselves. I gave them the tax returns. A five-figure income is completely boring.”

Last week’s prepared statements from the Democrats were timed to counter Romney’s Aspen fundraiser July 9 at the local home of Susan Crown and her husband, William Kunkler. The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign reportedly raised $2.5 million in Aspen from bipartisan sources, according to the self-described “conservative bully pulpit” ColoradoPeakPolitics.com. Crown was reportedly an Obama supporter until last year, when she flipped over an administration policy regarding Israel.

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Democrats have been making an issue of Romney’s reluctance to release more than one year of tax forms, something neither he nor anyone else is required to do publicly. Generally, the Democrats’ questions revolve around whether Romney has used offshore investments to avoid paying his fair share of U.S. taxes.

Ireland said neither he nor the other Democrats who are seeking Romney’s returns are suggesting that the presidential candidate has done anything illegal.

“When you have overseas money, you may not be paying tax on its earnings,” Ireland said. “People are making a lot of money overseas that’s untaxed, and they want an amnesty so they can bring it back into this country and be taxed at like 5 percent. We don’t know if that’s going on (with Romney), but it’s kind of an issue when somebody has extensive overseas holdings.”

In a story on an ABC News political website, Ireland said his tax returns have never been an issue, and he offered to release them.

“After finding them, he did – five years’ worth, from 2007 through 2011,” the media site reported. (Actually, the story’s Web links omitted Ireland’s 2011 filing.)

Joining forces for last week’s conference call were Ireland, Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio and state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village. They offered “contrasting economic visions of President Obama and Mitt Romney,” according to a prepared statement from the Colorado Democratic Party.

The statement says that Obama believes “we must create an economy that’s built to last and restores middle-class security by investing in education, energy, innovation and infrastructure, and by reforming the tax code. The president’s plan will create American jobs, responsibly pay down our debt and ensure that everyone – from Wall Street to Main Street – plays by the same rules and pays their fair share.”

Obama’s vision and tax plan stands in stark contrast to Mitt Romney’s, the statement says.

“As a corporate buyout specialist, Romney made massive profits by shuttering plants, firing workers and investing in companies that were pioneers in shipping American jobs overseas all while investing his money in offshore bank accounts,” the statement says.

Ireland made a point in the statement that the U.S. cannot afford to cut taxes for those making salaries in the upper six figures or seven figures.

“Most of us don’t have the opportunity to put our investments overseas in tax havens,” he said. “So when we see that Mitt Romney only pays taxes on 15 percent of his income that is only for reported income – there may be income that doesn’t have to be reported, and that’s pretty unfair.

“Most of us have, as our primary savings, our home and some equity and we can’t store that in offshore bank accounts. Unfortunately, that Mitt Romney won’t talk about that offshore money – where it is and how much it is – is pretty telling considering Mitt Romney’s father set the precedent of releasing more than a decade of tax returns.”

Ireland’s reference to Romney’s dad recalled the late George W. Romney, a prominent businessman and Republican politician who served as governor of Michigan in the late 1960s. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 1968 and later joined the Nixon administration as U.S. secretary of housing and urban development.

In the Democratic Party’s statement, Schwartz had the following to say about Obama and Mitt Romney: “We have a president that does understand what our challenges are, especially when it comes to small businesses. He signed the Small Business Jobs Act to increase lending and capital for small businesses, and he’s cut taxes for them 18 times. Rural Colorado, much like rural America, has our own specific challenges.

“We need to have someone like President Obama who understands the needs of rural America. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney will come (to Aspen) and will go to a high-dollar fundraiser and not listen to the concerns of local people and our local community.”

Ireland’s tax returns from 2007 to 2010 suggest that he is not a wealthy man. They show that he had total annual income ranging between $39,737 and $65,208.

A tax attorney and former Pitkin County commissioner, Ireland was first elected mayor in 2007 and is now serving his third consecutive term. Term limits bar him from seeking the mayor’s office in 2013.

asalvail@aspentimes.com

Read ABC News’ story on Democrats’ tax filings at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/romney-poked-tax-forms-tricky-democrats/story?id=16750925

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