(Bloomberg News) Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire who is by far the wealthiest of the Republican presidential candidates, said he has no plans to release his income tax returns if he wins his party's nomination.
Romney, whose most recent disclosure in August estimated his personal wealth at as much as $250 million, said yesterday he had already released extensive financial information and had no "current plans" to make his tax returns public.
If the former Massachusetts governor wins the nomination and sticks to his plan, he would be one of the only presidential nominees in the last three decades to withhold his income tax return. While income tax information is private and there is no legal obligation to disclose it, presidents and nominees for the office have done so routinely since the 1970s.
"We follow the tax laws, and if there's an opportunity to save taxes, we -- like everybody else in this country -- will follow that opportunity," Romney told reporters in Lancaster, New Hampshire, according to a partial transcript of his remarks provided by his campaign.
"Down the road, we'll see what happens if I'm the nominee," he added, saying that while he had no "immediate plans" to release tax returns, "that may change in the future."
The day before, he had been more definitive in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd, saying "I doubt it," when asked about releasing his tax return, and adding, according to a transcript: "I don't intend to release the tax returns."
'Different Set of Rules'
President Barack Obama's re-election campaign swiftly criticized Romney on the issue.
"Why does Governor Romney feel like he can play by a different set of rules?" Ben LaBolt, Obama's campaign spokesman, said in a statement. "What is it that he doesn't want the American people to see? Previous candidates have disclosed their returns so Americans could be aware of potential conflicts of interest and gauge whether a candidate had gamed the tax system to their advantage."
Then-Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, were exceptions in 2000, both releasing only partial returns. In 2003, before their re- election bid, they released their full returns.