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Romney refuses Occupy Iowa demand that he release his tax returns

Most Iowans are trying to decide which Republican presidential candidate they'll support in the state's upcoming caucus.

One group, however, already has decided on Mitt Romney. But what they want is only tangentially related to Tuesday's electoral gatherings across Iowa.

Occupy Des Moines is demanding that Romney and Wells Fargo release their tax returns and that the former Massachusetts governor return money donated to his 2012 presidential campaign from Wells Fargo PAC and Wells Fargo employees.

Good luck with that, especially the give-back-money part.

Arrests follow protest: The protesters, 10 of whom were arrested after they banged on the Romney campaign office windows, said they chose the candidate and Wells Fargo because of their corporate ties.

Occupy Des Moines protesters bang on the window of Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's office in Des Moines, Iowa December 28, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS CIVIL UNREST)
: Occupy Des Moines protesters bang on the
window of Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts
governor Mitt Romney's office in Des Moines, Iowa.

Occupy Des Moines officials, via a press release, said that Wells Fargo is "notorious for its subprime, predatory lending and tax avoidance" and that Romney has pledged to "enact a corporate agenda to cut, de-regulate, and privatize government at the expense of hardworking families."

Romney told campaign trail reporters that he would do what is legally required of him, but that at this time he has no plans to release his income tax returns or lists of people who are bundling donations for him.

The multi-millionaire former businessman rebuffed a previous challenge from Texas Gov. Rick Perry to show what he makes via his Form 1040 filings.

Romney did suggest, however, that he might consider disclosing more financial information in the future.

Candidates' taxes: I suspect that if Romney does get the Republican nod to challenge Obama, he'll reveal at least some of his tax paperwork. All the major candidates (and their spouses) have done so in recent elections.

But as I asked when the issue of a Long Island politician opening up his tax records for public scrutiny came up, what's the big deal?

Pardon me for repeating myself, but:

Tax Peeping Toms: But why do we care? The candidates don't do their own taxes so it provides no insight on their understanding of the tax code or their ability to fill out the forms.

And you can be sure that if returns are released, there will be no hint of any potentially questionable tax-cutting moves.

We can see what tax breaks they claim, specifically which ones they use just the same as you and I in our filings.

That allows us to nod knowingly when the candidate gets a $1,000 per child tax credit, wonder about a candidate's health if he claimed a lot of medical deductions and tsk-tsk because there was so little in the candidate's charitable donations section of Schedule A.

But the main reason we want to see their tax returns is that we want to know exactly how much money they made.

And why does that really matter?

We already know they are rich. Only rich people tend to run, at least successfully, for public office, especially on the national level.

Should our tax voyeurism really be allowed to supersede the right of tax privacy we all enjoy? I don't think so.

So be patient, Perry and economic protesters. If Romney gets the GOP nomination, we'll then find out the precise dollars and cents on his latest Form 1040.

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