Keep your mitts off my tax returns, says Romney

 

Los Angeles

Mitt Romney, the long-running but still-vulnerable favourite to win the Republican presidential nomination, is once more facing awkward questions about his personal finances after announcing that he will refuse to share his tax returns with the US electorate.

The decision, revealed during a recent interview, threatens to put the front-running candidate, who is one of the wealthiest men ever to run for the White House, on the back foot heading into the start of the 2012 primary season, which begins with this weekend's Iowa Caucuses.

Almost every would-be President since the 1970s has published their tax return, but Romney announced that he intended to forego that opportunity during an interview with Chuck Todd of MSNBC. He did not seek to justify the decision, but said merely: "I don't intend to release the tax returns. I don't."

The comments were edited out of the interview before broadcast last week, but emerged during extended footage aired at the weekend. Asked about the issue on the campaign trail, Romney added: "We follow the tax laws, and if there's an opportunity to save taxes, we, like everybody else in this country, will follow that opportunity."

The remarks were seized upon by both Democrats and Romney's rivals for the GOP ticket, who have all promised to release their tax returns. "Why does Governor Romney feel like he can play by a different set of rules?" said the Obama campaign. "What is it that he doesn't want the American people to see?"

One possible answer is the size of Romney's bank balance. With a personal fortune estimated at $250m [£160m], critics have long said that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans. In a recent GOP debate, he casually offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 over a disputed point of fact.

Another answer is Romney's use of tax loopholes. Though he publicly calls for fiscal discipline, it's probable that, like most of America's so-called "1 per cent," he exploits the nation's elaborate tax code to ensure that he pays a far smaller proportion of income to the IRS than the middle-classes. Analysis by the New York Times last week suggested that his burden was around 15 per cent, thanks to a Bush-era concession aimed at hedge fund managers.

A third potential reason Romney wants to keep his tax return under wraps is that it would reveal exactly how much he does, or does not, donate to charities. It would also lay bare the "tithes" he pays to the Mormon Church, in which he is a former Bishop.

Unease over Romney's wealth has been recently aired in GOP debates. He made his fortune at Bain Capital, a private equity firm which rival Newt Gingrich claimed made hundreds of millions of dollars from "bankrupting companies and laying off employees".

The decision not to publish a tax return also opens him to allegations of shameless hypocrisy. During the 1990s, when he tried, and failed, to secure a Senate seat in Massachusetts, Romney repeatedly challenged the incumbent, Edward Kennedy, to release his tax returns to prove he "had nothing to hide".

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star