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Romney says he’ll release tax return by Oct. 15

Candidate given extension by IRS

Mitt Romney will release his complete 2011 tax return by Oct. 15 and possibly sooner, but that will be the presidential challenger’s final disclosure, his campaign said Sunday.

Romney received a filing extension from the Internal Revenue Service, and Oct. 15 — 22 days before Election Day — is the extended deadline.

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“We have said as soon as they’re ready we’re going to release them,” Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I believe they’ll be ready before that.”

“They’re being finalized. There’s a lot of forms that have to come in from other entities that the governor doesn’t have control over,” Gillespie added.

In January, Romney made public his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011, which projected his tax liability at $3.2 million last year.

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Presidential candidates are not required to release tax returns, and the Romney campaign often notes that the former Massachusetts governor has already exceeded his legal obligation. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee four years ago, also released two years of tax returns.

But most major-party nominees in recent decades have released more than two years of returns, and President Obama’s campaign has been pressuring Romney to follow the example of his father, George Romney, who made public 12 years of returns when he sought the GOP nomination in 1968.

The Obama campaign has also questioned why Mitt Romney would share 23 years of tax returns with McCain in 2008, when he was being considered as a running mate, but withhold the same financial documents from the public. Obama released seven years of tax returns in 2008 and has made his return public each year he has been in the White House.

On Friday, Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, sought to strike a deal in a letter to Matt Rhoades, his counterpart at the Romney campaign.

“Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide,” Messina wrote. “So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: If the governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more — neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign.”

The Romney campaign rejected Messina’s offer.

“It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney’s tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy, and reining in spending’’ Rhoades responded in an e-mail.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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