NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Friday that he has "paid taxes every year — and a lot of taxes" as he rejected an anonymous claim that he hadn't paid taxes for a decade on his vast personal wealth.
Democrats have tried to make Romney's personal wealth and how he has managed it a key issue in the presidential contest. The former Massachusetts governor, who would be among the richest presidents ever elected, is aggressively competing with President Barack Obama for the support of middle-class voters.
Romney has refused to release more than one year of personal tax returns, despite calls from Democrats and some Republicans to do so, saying his critics would distort the information and use it against him. He has promised to release a second year of returns.
Romney's 2010 federal tax return shows he paid 13.9 percent in taxes on income of $21.6 million. Most of Romney's income came from investment gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than earned income.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said that an investor in Romney's former firm, Bain Capital, told him that Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years. Reid offered no evidence to support the claim, wouldn't identify the investor and even acknowledged that he didn't know if the claim was true. When asked about it during a radio appearance Thursday, Romney said Reid needed to "put up or shut up," an assertion he repeated Friday.
Reid has told the tax story this week on the Senate floor, in interviews and in a statement.
"When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up," Reid said in a statement Thursday night. "But as a presidential candidate, it's his obligation to put up, and release several years' worth of tax returns just like nominees of both parties have done for decades."
On Friday, Romney said, "Harry is simply wrong." He repeated an observation made earlier that Reid's source could be the White House or the Obama campaign.