Nickel-and-diming it: Surprising tidbits in Romney’s 2011 tax return took a microscopic look at Mitt Romney’s 2011 federal tax return –one of the only two he’s released—and found some surprising tidbits. It turns out that Mitt and Ann Romney, while reporting $13,696,951 in adjusted gross income, [not a cent of it earned through work ,i.e., “wages, salaries, tips, etc.”], they managed to reduce that prodigious sum by claiming several picayune deductions.

For example, the Romneys went to the trouble of filling out a Form 4684 (Casualties and Thefts) to report losses of $39 in two family trusts. Interestingly, one trust lost $29 and the other $10. One can only wonder what was broken or stolen.

According to the IRS instructions for Form 4684, you can use Form 4684 to “deduct losses of property from fire, storm, shipwreck, or other casualty, or theft (for example, larceny, embezzlement, and robbery).”

Salvatore Babones, who wrote the article and clearly has killer magnifying-glass skills, added this bit of snark:

I like to think that the $39 were lost in the world’s smallest shipwreck. I guess it’s just the romantic in me,

Other small claims include a $114 work opportunity credit, $28 for a bonus depreciation on a research tax credit, $27 for a “flow through empowerment zone employment credit,” and — no kidding — $2 for “increasing research activities” in a small business.

[What did he do…give a 7-year-old a two-dollar bill to run over to the next block to see what the 6-year-old over there was charging for lemonade?]

Petty, petty, petty. But even a multi-millionaire is entitled to itsy bitsy, teeny weeny deductions. It’s legal, and it shows how thorough the Romneys accountants are.  Sure, it’s penny ante, but I’m told that this is how wealthy people stay rich–by watching every coin. But there’s certain ick factor there, don’t you think?

You can download Romney’s returns and check for yourself at Politico. Fair winds and following seas. And no texting while yachting, please!

All of this, while somewhat entertaining and confirming of the rich man’s world in which Romney lives,  makes me even more curious about the hidden–much bigger– secrets in the many years of tax returns that the Romneys have, so far, refused to release.