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Poll: Most Americans think Romney should release more tax returns

July 19, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Mitt Romney campaigns in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Mitt Romney campaigns in Bowling Green, Ohio. (J.D. Pooley / Getty Images )

As pressure builds for Mitt Romney to release additional tax returns, a new poll suggests a majority of Americans agree that the Republican presidential candidate should disclose more about his financial history.

A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Wednesday night found that 54% of adults thought Romney should release more than the two years of returns he had already agreed to make public.

Still, 42% of those surveyed said they did not expect the tax forms to reveal information that could damage Romney’s campaign. And 47% said they thought the information contained in the returns was “largely irrelevant to voters.”

The results of the poll were predictably split along party lines, with Republicans less interested in seeing the returns and Democrats more likely to think the information would hurt Romney’s image.

But 45% of independents said they thought the tax forms could show either that Romney was unfit to be president (9%) or reveal information harmful to the campaign (36%). Independents were also more likely than Republicans, but less likely than Democrats, to think the returns would provide legitimate information to voters.

Romney released his full 2010 returns this year after being pressured to do so during the Republican primary. He said at the time that the campaign “made a mistake in holding off as long as we did.” The campaign also released an estimate of his 2011 taxes and has said the full returns would be released this year.

Democrats say Romney’s reluctance to reveal more suggests he might be hiding something. Romney’s father, George, released 12 years of returns when he ran for president in the 1960s. And Romney privately handed over 23 years of returns when he was being vetted in 2008 to be John McCain’s running mate.

McCain said Wednesday that he “can personally vouch for the fact that there was nothing in [Romney’s] tax return that would in any way be disqualifying for him to be a candidate.”

Romney’s 2010 returns showed that he and his wife, Ann, had $21.7 million in income and paid $3 million in taxes, a tax rate of 13.9%. That’s far lower than the 35% top marginal tax rate.

They also caused trouble for Romney because they revealed investments that had not been detailed in mandatory financial disclosure forms, including a number of investments located overseas.

The Romneys expected to pay $3.2 million on $20.9 million of income for the 2011 tax year, a rate of 15.4%.

President Obama and the first lady paid $162,074 in taxes on adjusted gross income of $789,674 for the 2011 tax year. Their tax rate was about 20.5%.

The poll sampled 539 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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kim.geiger@latimes.com

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