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Lindsey Graham Praises Tax Avoidance

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By Michael Cohn
July 11, 2012

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended Mitt Romney’s use of foreign tax havens, contending that “it’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally.”

Graham said Tuesday that the problem is with the complex Tax Code, not with the tax strategies used by Romney. “As long as it was legal, I’m OK with it,” he said, according to the Huffington Post. “I don’t blame anybody for using the Tax Code to their advantage. I blame us for having it so complicated and confused. Pick a rate and make people pay it.”

Romney has come in for increasing criticism for his use of foreign tax haven countries such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands in the blind trusts set up for him and his wife Ann. A recent Vanity Fair article tried to shed light on some of those tax arrangements, based on the information available in his 2010 tax return and 2011 estimated tax return, along with the required financial disclosure forms, that his campaign has released.

Lindsey Graham

But much of the information about Romney’s finances is still murky, and he has claimed he does not manage them since they have been put into a blind trust ever since he was governor of Massachusetts. Nevertheless the blind trust has invested in a company run by one of his sons. The Obama campaign has begun to run ads critical of Romney’s use of foreign bank accounts.

Graham compared tax avoidance to a game. "Every American tries to find the way to get the most deductions they can,” he said. “I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game." However, Graham added that he wants to end the game by simplifying the Tax Code along the lines of the recommendations by the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission. But he said has no problem with people playing the game “as long as they don’t cheat.”

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