The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Wasserman Schultz

"Mitt Romney is the first major party candidate for president of the United States in modern times not to release at least 12 years of tax returns."

Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Sunday, August 12th, 2012 in an interview on Fox News

Major candidates in modern times have released 12 years of tax returns, says Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz went on Fox News Aug. 12 to criticize Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

At one point, she turned the conversation to Romney’s tax returns.

Here’s some of the back and forth between the South Florida congresswoman and Fox News Sunday guest host John Roberts:

Wasserman Schultz: "Barack Obama and Joe Biden have released 12 years of tax returns. Mitt Romney has released one and a partial view of a second one. His own father..."

Roberts: "John McCain released two."

Wasserman Schultz:: "His own father -- no, John McCain released more than -- released about 12 years of tax returns."

Roberts: "John Kerry didn't release his wife's tax returns. I mean, you can make a lot of arguments what is appropriate in terms of..."

Wasserman Schultz: "Spouses are not running for president. ... Mitt Romney is the first major party candidate for president of the United States in modern times not to release at least 12 years of tax returns. It's unacceptable."

The subject of Romney’s tax returns and his taxes has generated multiple claims we’ve evaluated on our Truth-O-Meter. Here, we will examine Wasserman Schultz’s claim, "Romney is the first major party candidate for president of the United States in modern times not to release at least 12 years of tax returns."

PolitiFact recently examined a claim by former President Bill Clinton that it’s typical for presidential candidates to release 10 or 11 years of tax returns. We rated that claim Half True, and we will draw from that fact-check.

There have been several major presidential candidates to release fewer than 12 tax returns:

• In 2000, George W. Bush provided nine and Al Gore eight.

• In the 2008 primary, then Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., delivered seven, a move that was matched by Hillary Clinton about a month later.

• In 1988, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis released six years of returns.

• In 2008, McCain released two years of returns, as Roberts said.

• In 1980, Ronald Reagan offered up just one return.

There is a difference for incumbents and challengers. Ever since 1976, when Jimmy Carter became president, sitting presidents and vice presidents have released their taxes each year they are in office. By the time re-election rolls around, they have put at least four tax returns into the public record. Challengers generally match or exceed that.

Our colleagues at Factcheck.org looked at this in July and found that since 1980, only two general election candidates have revealed no more than two years of tax returns. One was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2008 and the other is Romney, who released his 2010 tax return and an estimate of 2011.

When we contacted the DNC about this fact-check, they sent us a statement saying Romney should release more of his tax returns. What they didn’t provide was evidence to support Wasserman Schultz’s claim.

Our ruling

Wasserman Schultz said, "Mitt Romney is the first major party candidate for president of the United States in modern times not to release at least 12 years of tax returns."

There are several examples of major party candidates for president in modern times who released fewer than 12 tax returns. And those examples have been highlighted in recent news articles. Wasserman Schultz’s claim is not correct, and we rate the statement False.

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About this statement:

Published: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

Subjects: Candidate Biography, Taxes

Sources:

Fox News transcript, Interview with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Aug. 12, 2012

ABC This Week transcript, Interview with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Aug. 5, 2012

PolitiFact, "It’s typical for presidential candidates to release 10 or 11 years of tax returns, Clinton says,"Aug. 1,  2012

PolitiFact, "Mitt Romney says presidential candidates tend to release tax returns in April," Jan. 18, 2012

PolitiFact, "Obama ad says Romney stashed money in the Cayman islands," July 12, 2012

Tax History Project, Presidential Tax returns, Accessed Aug.  13, 2012

CNN, "Obama releases tax returns, challenges Clinton to follow suit,"March 25,  2008

Mitt Romney campaign, 2010 tax return and 2011 estimated tax return, Accessed Aug. 13, 2012

Interview, Melanie Roussell, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, Aug. 13, 2012

Interview, Evan Yost, spokesman for Mitt Romney, Aug. 13, 2012

Written by: Jon Greenberg, Amy Sherman
Researched by: Jon Greenberg, Amy Sherman
Edited by: Angie Drobnic Holan

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