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Romney reviewed 10 years of GOP vice presidential candidates' tax returns

Mitt Romney's self-described "inelegant" characterization of nontaxpayers as Obama supporters who see themselves as victims, entitled to government help, has re-energized the call for public review of exactly how much, or little, the Republican presidential candidate has paid Uncle Sam over the last decade.

Mitt Romney 2010 tax returnRomney has released just one complete tax return (for the 2010 tax year) and a preliminary filing for 2011.

When he completes his 2011 Form 1040 -- Romney, like millions of Americans, got an extension until Oct. 15 to file -- he says he'll make the finalized version public, too.

Similarly, Romney's vice presidential choice, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), has released only his 2010 and 2011 returns.

But Ryan and the others who made Romney's short list of potential running mates reportedly had to produce 10 years worth of tax returns as part of the campaign's VP vetting process.

Ten years of tax returns has been the rule of thumb that most presidential campaigns have used in investigating potential vice presidential candidates.

In fact, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got more than twice that amount of tax returns -- 23 Internal Revenue Service filings to be precise -- from Romney when McCain was looking for his running mate and the former Massachusetts governor was under consideration.

The Romney campaign has used the McCain examination of those many years of returns as an answer to unsubstantiated charges that Romney somehow was able to pay no taxes during some of the years for which he won't release his tax records.

And now we learn that Romney also wanted years of tax data about his possible veep.

But Romney still won't let you, me and the rest of the people he's asking for votes look at more of his 1040s for ourselves.

Does it matter?

More than half of Americans thought so this summer when a USA Today/Gallup poll asked whether Romney should be more forthcoming with his tax information.

And 44 percent told the pollsters that they believe Romney's undisclosed taxes would include damaging information, including 15 percent who said they believe the revelations would be so serious that they would "show he is unfit to be president."

With the tape of Romney disparaging the filing practices of the rest of the country, or at least 47 percent of it, it's time for him to show what he's paid.

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