Former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital chief Mitt Romney said he probably would not release his tax returns if he becomes the Republican nominee for president.
The move, or non-move, as it were, would break a long tradition for major-party candidates. Presidential candidates are required to make a large number of financial disclosures, but are not required to release their tax returns.
Still, the release of tax returns has become routine for presidential candidates, including Romney's father, George, a former Michigan governor who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 1968.
Romney made the disclosure during an interview with MSNBC, which did not air that portion of the interview. According to a transcript, he was asked whether he planned to release the tax returns.
"I doubt it," he said. "I will provide all financial info, which is an extraordinary pile of documents and which show investments and so forth."
"But you won't do the tax returns?" the interviewer, Chuck Todd, pressed.
"I don't intend to release the tax returns. I don't," Romney replied, although he later admitted, "I never say never," when Todd asked Romney about his call, during his unsuccessful run against the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1994, for Kennedy to release his tax returns. Romney at the time also refused to release his tax returns, despite his pressing of Kennedy to do so.
Romney is one of the richest men ever to seek the presidency, with an estimated fortune as high as $250 million, a fortune he has used and will continue to use to finance his run for the nation's highest office. A co-founder of the private equity firm Bain Capital, Romney continues to earn millions every year from the firm, which he retired from 11 years ago, a recent report in The New York Times indicates.
Romney may be reluctant to release his tax returns as they could show that he pays a much lower rate of tax on most of his income from Bain, which could be taxed at the carried-interest rate or capital-gains rate rather than at the much higher ordinary income rate.
Democrats lost little time pouncing on Romney's refusal. Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, asked, "Why does Gov. Romney feel like he can play by a different set of rules? What is it that he doesn't want the American people to see? Gov. Romney, who has favored secrecy over openness time after time, should live up to the same standard of disclosure his father and others set."