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Romney Defending Tax Return Stance Says ‘Not a Business’

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Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney, defending his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns, said, unlike a company being evaluated by a potential investor, he shouldn’t have to provide more details of his finances for public vetting.

“I’m not a business,” the presumed Republican presidential nominee said in an Aug. 7 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek when asked whether he would want to see five years of financial information for a firm in which he might invest.

“We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet,” he said. “I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments, but in addition have provided and will provide a full two years of tax returns.”

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive whose fortune is estimated at about $250 million, has faced increasing calls -- both from Democrats questioning whether he dodged paying taxes and Republicans eager to put the issue to rest -- to release more tax filings that would shed light on his investments and financial activities.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has been the most outspoken on the issue, recently claiming that he had been told by someone with knowledge of Romney’s finances that the Republican hadn’t paid taxes for a decade.

Paid Taxes

The charge drew an angry response from Romney, who said Reid should “put up or shut up” about his source, and asserted that he had paid “a lot of taxes” every year and that President Barack Obama was behind attempts to suggest otherwise.

In the interview, Romney said the amount of tax return information he has released is “exactly the same” as Senator John McCain’s when he was the Republican presidential nominee four years ago.

“The Obama team had no difficulty with that circumstance,” Romney told Businessweek. “The difference between then and now is that President Obama has a failed economic record, and is trying to find any issue he can to deflect from the failure of his record.”

While McCain released his 2006 and 2007 tax returns, he initially refused to provide those of his much wealthier wife Cindy McCain, an heiress who controls the Budweiser beer wholesale distributing company Hensley & Co. and files separately. Under public pressure, McCain’s campaign ultimately provided a two-page excerpt of her 2006 and 2007 tax returns that divulged her income and how much tax she paid without providing any specifics about her investments or financial transactions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at jdavis159@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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