Mitt Romney says he's never paid less than 13 percent of his income in taxes during the past decade, the most complete explanation of his tax returns to date.
Romney told reporters Thursday in South Carolina that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's claim that Romney paid no taxes in some years is, quote, "totally false."
Reid had claimed it was possible Romney was refusing to release more than two years of returns was because Romney didn't want to reveal that he had paid no taxes.
“I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year,” he told reporters Thursday.
He says he's also given generously to charity and that, including those contributions, he's given up more than 20 percent of his income each year.
Romney has released his 2010 tax return and says he'll release his 2011 return before the Nov. 6 election.
Democrats — particularly Reid, D-Nev. — have pounced on Romney over how much he has paid in taxes beyond the two years he released early in his campaign. Reid has been the most vocal, accusing Romney, without giving any proof, of failing to pay taxes.
Team Obama has pointed to the secrecy surrounding the taxes as evidence that he would provide a tax scheme that would benefit the wealthy, like himself, over the average American.
Democrats hammered Romney because they say he pays a lower effective tax rate than many middle-class families.
Romney released his 2010 tax return in January; he paid 13.9 percent on $21.7 million. He has also said he plans to release 2011 returns. Romney’s tax rate is lower because most of his annual income comes from investments, which are taxed at 15 percent, below what he would pay on ordinary income.
Romney fired back at Reid on Thursday, saying his claims are "totally false."
“I just have to say, given the challenges that America faces – 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty – the fascination with taxes I’ve paid I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face."
“I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way,” he said.
The White House had little to say about Romney's comments. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that Obama believes in releasing several years of tax returns. “This president believes the tradition for presidential candidates putting forward multiple years of tax returns is a useful and valuable one. It’s not always a comfortable one but it’s one he abided by and one the American people believe is right and expect their candidates to abide by.”
President Barack Obama’s 2011 tax return showed that he paid an effective rate of 20.5 percent.
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