Reality Check: Romney & The Republican Tax Return ‘Standard’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s no law requiring candidates to release their tax returns, or for how many previous years. But it’s become customary for presidential contenders to do so.

Mitt Romney campaign surrogate, the former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, says there’s a Republican standard.
 
Romney did release his tax returns, said Pawlenty on CBS ‘This Morning,’ “for 2010 and 2011.”

But that’s not completely true.

Romney did release his 2010 tax returns, under pressure from his fellow Republicans. He revealed he earned $21.6 million and paid a tax rate of 13.9 percent; and he says he’ll make public his 2011 returns, too.

But two years of releasing tax returns is NOT standard practice for Republicans — or Democrats.

IN FACT:

President Barack Obama released six years of tax returns when he ran for president in 2007.

And here’s a list of how many years of tax returns former presidents released.

George W. Bush: 9 years.
John McCain: 2 years.
Jimmy Carter: 1 year.
Gerald Ford: 10 years.
Ronald Reagan: 1 year.
John Kerry: 20 years.

And Romney’s own father, George, released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in 1968.

But that’s NOT THE WHOLE STORY.

According to the Tax History Project, the practice of releasing tax returns came from Richard Nixon, who was under fire for his own financial dealings.

Nixon — in his famous “Checkers” speech– demanded his opponents make all of their finances public.

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW:

Nixon’s gambit worked. Two of his Democratic opponents released their tax returns. Ironically, it turns out, Nixon did not.
That’s Reality Check.

Here are some of the sources that we used for this Reality Check:

Bloomberg: Romney’s 13.9% Tax Rate Shows Power of Investment Tax Preference

Tax Analysts: Presidential Tax Returns

CBS News: Pressure mounts on Mitt Romney to release more tax returns

CNN Money: GOP candidates on their tax returns

Washington Post: Romney’s misleading history of tax returns issued by presidential contenders

More from Pat Kessler
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