January 18, 2012
Just four days before voting in the crucial Republican primary in South Carolina, Mitt Romney conceded yesterday that he has only been paying about 15 per cent in taxes on most of his very considerable income, a rate far lower than most middle-class Americans are asked to contribute.
After taking a beating from his rivals for his years as CEO of Bain Capital, a private equity firm with a history of investing in companies that variously blossomed or went bust, the issue of his personal tax filings is now emerging as a potentially more dangerous threat to his candidacy. It took centre stage at a fractious candidates’ debate in Myrtle Beach on Monday night when he was pressured to agree to make his tax returns public.
“Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax [returns], so the people of this country can see how you made your money,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said to rowdy applause from 3,000 people packed into the Myrtle Beach convention centre. “As Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now.”
If Mr Romney knew the question was coming, he failed before the television cameras to give any kind of comfortable response. Instead, wearing a now familiar clenched grin, he wavered, noting that in the past candidates have only made their filings available in April, tax filing time in America.