Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has faced pressure from Democrats to make public his federal tax returns from the past ten years, finally revealed that the reason for his refusal to release any returns from prior to 2010 is that he never actually filed any tax returns during those previous years.
Romney's surprising disclosure was made at a press conference in one of America's poorest cities, Brownsville, Texas, where Romney attempted to connect with struggling Texans. It seemed that Romney, plagued by accusations of being out of touch with impoverished Americans, felt comfortable laying bare his financial soul to these down-on-their luck Americans.
"I feel so ashamed," he told the citizens of Brownsville. "I know I've been a little evasive every time the subject of my past years' tax returns comes up. Honestly, I wasn't trying to hide any outlandishly huge income. The truth is, I never filed tax returns for years 2000 to 2009. I finally got my act together for 2010 and paid a shitload of cash over to the Man. But those other years are pretty much MIA."
Maxwell White, a 52-year-old Texan and long-time Republican, wasn't entirely satisfied with Romney's explanation, albeit heartfelt.
"No judgment, man," put in White, "but I've paid my taxes every year. I never owe anything because I've been unemployed for the past nineteen months. But still, I file."
Romney nodded, forcing a smile. "And I respect you for that, man. The thing is, I wasn't unemployed, and I was afraid I was going to owe a buttload of money to the government. And the even bigger snag was that all my income is tied up in off-shore accounts, which would have made it a hassle to get to in order to write out a check."
Absorbing this information, White and others appeared sympathetic to Romney's dilemma.
"I hear you," White finally replied. "And probably if you were to go ahead and file now, they'd hit you with all these crazy penalties and interest fees. Yeah, I get why filing now wouldn't really be an option."
Another woman, Rosetta Langley, also spoke up in solidarity with the presidential candidate. "Mr. Romney, I'd like you to know that we've all been there. What you told us about tonight tells me that you're not out of touch with the American people. In this economy, we all have financial hardships. Here in Brownsville, we're worrying about putting food on the table. You're struggling to pay back taxes. It's all the same thing. We're all in the same boat."
"We are in the same boat!" Romney agreed. "And if you vote for me, I'll take you for a sail on my yacht."
His remark evoked chuckles from even some of the most somber Brownsville folk. On the whole, Romney's campaign advisers reported, the crowd's takeaway from the press conference was positive.
Political consultant Ann Caldwell noted, "Prior to this, Mitt Romney may have seemed too perfect, even a little unapproachable. But tonight gave voters a chance to see his vulnerable side. I mean, who hasn't botched a tax return? We've all done it."
Since coming clean regarding his tax delinquencies, Romney has stated that if elected, his first executive act will be to issue a presidential pardon of himself for his potentially criminal federal tax evasion.
As he explained it, "It'll be my first step toward reducing our national debt."