Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), says he has been told that the reason why the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney refuses to release additional tax returns is that he did not pay any tax for 10 years.
Reid, in an interview with The Huffington Post from his Capitol Hill office, said he got the information from a former Bain investor. Reid also said Romney failed to make it through a Senate confirmation process as Cabinet nominee because of lack of openness about his personal finances.
The Senate Majority leader, in a reference to Romney's father George Romney, who released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in the 1960s, said: "His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son."
According to The Huffington Post, Reid claimed that a month ago, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called him, saying: "Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years." Reid said: "He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain. But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?." He continued: "You guys have said his wealth is $250 million. Not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."
Reid, however, declined to reveal the source of his information. He makes it clear that he is uncertain if the information is accurate but points out that Romney's behavior encourages speculations about his finances. Democrats are growing more assertive with claims that Romney probably did not pay tax for years after he refused to yield to calls to release his tax returns before 2010. Ted Strickland, former Ohio Governor, in an appearance at the Center for American Progress on Tuesday, said anyone could speculate on whether Romney is a tax avoider or a "cheat" only because "his behavior invites such speculation."
Romney's campaign's press secretary Andrea Saul, had previously denied rumors that Romney did not pay "any taxes at all."
Romney recently told ABC News that he could not recall if there were years when he paid below the 13.9 percent tax rate he paid in 2010. He promised to go back and look but he has since not returned with information, and according to The Washington Post, Romney's campaign aides have not responded to requests to clarify the former Massachusetts governor’s comment.
According to The Huffington Post, Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden, responded to the allegation, saying Romney has "gone above and beyond the disclosure requirements by releasing two years of personal tax returns in addition to the hundreds of pages of personal financial disclosure documents he has provided to the FEC and made public." Madden said it was "troubling and disappointing that Senator Reid would cite Governor Romney's father, George, as part of a personal attack against the governor. We have many substantive disagreements with the senator and his policies, but using insults about a father-son relationship is a step too far."
Digital Journal reported that Ann Romney, also recently defended her husband' decision not to release his tax returns for several years with a comment that caused an uproar: "We’ve given all... people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life." She added in the interview, seeming to imply that Romney's generosity exempts him from releasing his tax returns, "You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially. He’s a very generous person. We give 10 per cent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary for four years."
ABC News reports that Reid had in the past called on Romney to release more of his tax returns but this is the first time he or any other top Democrat has suggested that Romney may have paid zero tax for several years.
The Blaze reports the allegation comes on the same day the Obama campaign released its latest video attacking Romney for not releasing additional tax returns.
ABC describes Reid’s statement as “a totally unsubstantiated rumor.” Politico.com says it is "a T-shirt gun of unsubstantiated claims."