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Romney says tax havens aid big business

Comments resemble earlier claim by president

HOPKINS, Minn. – Creating a potential headache for his campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said big businesses in the U.S. were “doing fine” in part because they get advantages from offshore tax havens.

His comments echoed similar assertions about the state of big business by President Barack Obama which Romney has criticized. They’re also a reminder that the GOP candidate has kept some of his personal fortune in low tax foreign accounts.

“Big business is doing fine in many places,” Romney said during a campaign fundraiser Thursday. “They get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses.”

Romney’s assertions resembled Obama’s declaration earlier this summer that the “private sector is doing fine.” Romney and other Republicans pounced on the president’s comments and cast them as an indication that he was out of touch with the nation’s economic struggles.

Romney didn’t mention Thursday that he has kept some of his personal money in offshore tax havens, including accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Romney’s campaign sought to mitigate any potential distractions from his comments on big business and tax havens. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Romney “has long said we need to simplify the tax code, close loopholes and create a more level playing field for American businesses.”

In his remarks, Romney drew a distinction between big business and small businesses. He said that, if elected, he would seek to make it easier for small businesses to succeed.

The extent of Romney’s offshore investments is unclear because the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has only released his 2010 personal tax returns.

Romney’s campaign says he plans to release his 2011 returns later this year when the documents are ready. Romney has said he paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes over the past 10 years.