Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at his South Carolina primary election night rally in Columbia, South Carolina, January 21, 2012.
Credits: (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Following on the heels of a resounding loss in South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will release his 2010 tax return this week in an effort to put the issue to rest.
Having been hounded for days heading into Saturday's vote about when he would release his tax returns - a tradition started by Romney's father in 1968 - Romney finally agreed he would release them in April.
But on Sunday, Romney conceded he'd allowed his tax returns to become a "distraction," and said he would release his 2010 tax return and his estimated 2011 return on Tuesday ahead of the debate in Florida.
"We made a mistake in holding off as long as we did," Romney said on Fox News Sunday. "It was not a great week for me. We spent a lot of time talking about tax returns and the changing result in Iowa."
In the final debate Thursday before Saturday's vote, Romney said he'd release his tax return in April and was booed by the audience when he added "maybe" he'd release his returns for the past 12 years, as his father did when he ran for president in 1968.
Romney, whose personal wealth is estimated at some $250 million, made a fortune as head of Bain Capital, an investment and venture capitalist firm he co-founded in 1984.
His seeming reluctance to release his tax returns was because, supporters and advisers reportedly said, he is modest about his wealth. He admitted this week he pays about 15% federal income taxes, since almost all of his income is from investments.
That's a lower rate than many Americans who earn a salary pay.
Romney's tax returns are also expected to show that the Mormon candidate has donated millions to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a religion many social conservatives view with skepticism.
"I don't think in the final analysis that religion is going to play a factor," Romney said in the Sunday interview, adding he has donated 10% of his income to the church as required by the religion.
Newt Gingrich won Saturday's vote convincingly with 40%, ahead of Romney's 28%, despite the latter leading in polls here for weeks leading up to it. Rick Santorum finished a distant third with 17% and libertarian-leaning Ron Paul finished last with 13%.