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Hoping to silence critics, Republican VP hopeful Ryan releases two years of tax returns

Republican vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a campaign rally at Miami University in Oxford.

Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Friday released his 2010 and 2011 tax returns, backing up his running mate in a fight with Democrats who have called for Mitt Romney to be more transparent about his personal finances.

Congressman Ryan and his wife, Janna, paid an effective tax rate of 20 percent last year. They paid $64,764 in total federal tax on adjusted gross income of $323,416 in 2011, when they filed an amended return. Their effective 2010 rate was about 16 percent.

Mr. Ryan's release of his most recent two years of tax returns was an attempt to back up Governor Romney's position that giving out two years of tax information was enough.

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Mr. Romney, who has released his 2010 return and an estimate for 2011, has come under fire for not making public details of his prior income taxes. Earlier this week he said he paid at least a 13 percent tax rate every year for the past 10 years.

In January, Mr. Romney released information showing he had paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010, mostly from capital gains on investments. The top tax rate for wages is 35 percent, while capital gains are taxed at a lower rate.

The Romney campaign posted the Ryans' returns on its website. "It's time to focus on the real issues in this campaign - turning around the economy and getting America back to work again," the campaign said.

Governor Romney has drawn criticism from Democrats who say presidential candidates typically release financial information going back many years.

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign said on Friday that if Mr. Romney releases five years of tax returns, it would not press the former private equity executive to release more - a proposal quickly rejected by Mr. Romney's campaign.

Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is one of the richest men ever to run for U.S. president. He has an estimated net worth of up to $250 million.

President Obama's re-election campaign and its Democratic allies have featured Governor Romney's wealth and refusal to release more tax returns in ads painting him as out of touch with the majority of voters.

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Polls show the strategy is working. Independent voters in swing states have a lower opinion of Mr. Romney after hearing about his business record and personal finances.

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