Mitt Romney said Thursday that his effective federal tax rate was at least 13 percent in each of the last 10 years, but he declined again to release the tax returns that would confirm his claim.
Romney’s statement during a press conference in Greer, S.C. honored a pledge he made in an interview with ABC News last month, when he said he would be “happy to go back and look” at his tax rate over the last decade, after he was accused by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of paying no taxes at all over that period.
“I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years,” Romney said on a tarmac after landing for a fundraiser. “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.”
Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, has made public his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011 and promised to share a complete 2011 return when it is finished. But he has steadfastly refused to release earlier returns, despite pressure from President Obama’s re-election campaign and even some members of his own party.
The Obama campaign said Romney’s internal review of his tax rates is unsatisfactory.
“Since there is substantial reason to doubt his claims, we have a simple message for him: Prove it,” Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. “Even though he’s invested millions in foreign tax havens, offshore shell corporations, and a Swiss bank account, he’s still asking the American people to trust him. However, given Mitt Romney’s secrecy about his returns, coupled with the revelations in just the one return we have seen to date and the inconsistencies between this one return and his other financial disclosures, he has forfeited the right to have us take him just at his word.”
Romney has maintained the calls for additional tax returns are a distraction from more important issues, a point he made again Thursday.
“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 paid, I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues we face,” Romney said.Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.