Santorum releases tax returns; paid 28 percent rate in 2010

The forms, which cover the years from 2007 to 2010, show the former Pennsylvania senator and his wife paid a tax rate of 25 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2010. 

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Those levels are much higher than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who faced criticism after his returns released earlier this year showed him earning $27 million in 2010 and paying a rate of 13.9 percent. Romney’s income, however, came mostly from investments, which supporters pointed out had already been taxed at corporate rates.

The Santorums earned over $3.5 million from 2007 to 2010. In 2007, Santorum and his wife paid $167,000 in taxes. That went up to $262,000 in 2008 and again increased to $310,000 in 2009. In 2010, the Santorums paid $263,000 in taxes.

Speaking on CNN’s "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Wednesday, Santorum said he had been “very forthright” in releasing his financial statements.

“I was very successful in making money and very successful in paying taxes,” he said.

According to the returns, most of Santorum's income came from public speaking events for Excelsio LLC, a software company, and consulting jobs. 

Santorum also received income from serving on a number of corporate boards and as a political pundit.

Santorum and his wife reported additional income from selling stocks in United Health Services and Brandywine. 

Tax returns have been a topic of heated discussion in the Republican presidential race. Mitt Romney initially received criticism for suggesting he did not have a timeline for releasing his tax returns. 

Romney eventually released returns from two years after pressure from GOP rivals who raised questions about his work as CEO of private equity giant Bain Capital. Romney has maintained that he's complied with all legal obligations on disclosing his wealth and added that he may release additional returns sometime in the future. 

Santorum had been one of the voices calling for the former Massachusetts governor to release his returns. "I don't know why he hasn't released his tax returns. I think he should," Santorum said in January. 

The former Pennsylvania senator had previously said he planned to release the returns and, in late January, went home to prepare them.