Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina January 18, 2012.
Mitt Romney has millions of dollars tied up in investments that are set up in the Cayman Islands, one of the worldâ€™s biggest tax havens, according to an ABC News report.
The Romney campaign says the ABC News report is â€œflat wrong.â€
â€œThe Romneysâ€™ investments in funds established in the Cayman Islands are taxed in the very same way they would be if those funds were established in the United States. These are not tax havens and it is false to say so,â€ Andrea Saul, Romneyâ€™s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Romney is under fire from his rivals as well as some allies, to release his tax returns immediately. The GOP front-runner has said he will probably do so in April, and drew attention to the issue yesterday when he said his tax rate is close to 15% because of his investments.
ABC News reports Romney â€œhas as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry.â€ The story says another investment, which Romney has disclosed as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, â€œshows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.â€
The story calls the Caymans â€œa notorious Caribbean tax haven.â€
A Romney campaign official, who was not named, told ABC News that â€œthe tax consequences to the Romneys are the very same whether the fund is domiciled here or another country.â€
This campaign official also said Romney and his wife, Ann, â€œhave money invested in funds that the trustee has determined to be attractive investment opportunities, and those funds are domiciled wherever the fund sponsors happen to organize the funds.â€
Romney himself has said â€œwe follow the tax laws. And if thereâ€™s an opportunity to save taxes we, like anybody else in this country, will follow that opportunity.â€
About $250 billion in tax revenue is lost annually by governments around the world because of tax havens, according to the Tax Justice Network. The group ranks the Cayman Islands second on its list of the worldâ€™s best tax havens in terms of its secrecy and the bank accounts that are managed in the country. Switzerland ranks first.
Romney is worth an estimated $190 million to $250 million, according to his personal financial disclosure report. These reports filed with the Office of Government Ethics list broad ranges for assets and liabilities.
But these disclosure reports donâ€™t contain the same detail as tax returns, which are not required to be released by presidential candidates. Still, it has been common practice in recent campaigns. Politifact, the fact-checking project of the Tampa Bay Times, says only seven of 34 presidential candidates since 1976 have declined to release their tax returns.