Romney Says It's Tithing That Keeps Him From Releasing Tax Returns

Evan Vucci/AP Photo

HOPKINS, Minn. - Mitt Romney has offered a new explanation for his resistance to releasing more than two years of tax returns, telling Parade Magazine that he never intended for the amount of money he gives to the Mormon church to be made public.

"Our church doesn't publish how much people have given," Romney told Parade Magazine in an interview that will appear in the August 26 issue of the magazine

"This is done entirely privately," he said. "One of the downsides of releasing one's financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It's a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church."

Ann Romney, who joined her husband for the interview, added, "When Mitt and I give that check, I actually cry."

Romney's remarks about tithing come after months of criticism that the candidate has refused to release more than two years of tax returns, instead releasing 2010 in full and an estimate for his 2011 returns. A full 2011 tax return is expected later this year.

Up until now, Romney has said that his resistance to make more tax returns public was born out of a concern that Democrats would use them to formulate more opposition research against him. An Associated Press estimate of Romney's tax returns shows that the Romney's have gave more than $4 million to their church in 2010 and 2011, and millions more through a family charity.

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Romney also gives money to other charities. Mormons are encouraged to give 10 percent of their income to the Mormon church.