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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has called on Republican Mitt Romney to release his past tax returns, saying that candidates for office need to be “as transparent as possible.”

Obama told Univision in an interview conducted at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia that candidates need to disclose their tax records as a way of letting the public know their financial background. It was the first time Obama had made the request personally, His campaign has pressured Romney to release a trove of tax documents going back to the 1990s.

“I think that it’s important for any candidate in public office to be as transparent as possible, to let people know who we are, what we stand for, and you know, I think that this is just carrying on a tradition that has existed throughout the modern presidency,” Obama said in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on Univision’s “Al Punto” program.

Romney has released tax returns for 2010 and provided an estimate for 2011 as part of the release of hundreds of pages of tax documents. The former Massachusetts governor filed for an extension on Friday for last year’s tax returns, a move he has made in the past.

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Obama was trying to “distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows.” She said Romney would “release his full 2011 return when it’s filed.”

Obama has released tax returns for last year, showing that he paid more than $160,000 in federal taxes on nearly $790,000 in income. Obama’s campaign has released tax information going back to 2000.

Romney earned $21.7 million in 2010 and paid about $3 million in taxes. In 2011, his campaign has estimated he earned about $21 million and will pay more than $3.2 million in taxes. His campaign has said he will file his tax returns before the 2012 election.


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Obama to Romney: Release Your Tax Returns  was originally published on