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In Upstate, Mitt Romney Talks About His Personal Taxes

2:46 PM, Aug 16, 2012   |    comments
Mitt Romney (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

(USA TODAY) - Mitt Romney told reporters today that he's paid an income tax rate of at least 13% for each of the last 10 years, providing more detail than ever on his recent payments.

The question about his taxes rankled the GOP presidential contender, who said he believes there are more urgent issues to discuss in the campaign.

"I have to say given the challenges America faces -- 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty -- the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small minded compared to the broad issues that we face," Romney said, during a brief media availability at the airport in Greenville, S.C.

The Obama campaign pounced on his statement, demanding that the Republican "prove it."

The average effective federal tax rate for American taxpayers is 11%, according to an analysis by the Tax Foundation, a non-profit research organization. That's based on 2009 data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Romney told reporters he went back and reviewed the tax rate he's paid during the last 10 years, after being asked during an ABC News interview last month whether there was a year in which he paid less than 13.9% -- the amount Romney paid in 2010.

At the time, Romney told reporter David Muir he would have to "go back and check."

President Obama and the Democrats have repeatedly assailed Romney, one of the wealthiest presidential candidates in two decades, for not revealing more of his tax information. The Republican has released his 2010 tax return and an estimate he paid for 2011.

Based on his 2011 estimate, Romney's effective tax rate on adjusted gross income last year was 15.4%.

"Since there is substantial reason to doubt his claims, we have a simple message for him: Prove it," said Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for Obama's campaign. "Given Mitt Romney's secrecy about his returns, coupled with the revelations in just the one return we have seen to date and the inconsistencies between this one return and his other financial disclosures, he has forfeited the right to have us take him just at his word."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid caused a stir when he said an investor at Bain Capital, Romney's former private equity firm, had told him that Romney had not paid taxes in 10 years. Reid has refused to disclose his source.

"Every year I've paid at least 13%," Romney said today, adding that he's still waiting for Reid to reveal his source.

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