Rubio, Cruz release tax returns, piling pressure on Trump

rubio-trump-cruz Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures towards rivals Marco Rubio (L) and Ted Cruz (R) during a debate in South Carolina | Reuters
  • If Donald is embarrassed about his tax returns, it's up to the voters to assess the facts. It's time to stop delaying and come clean with the American people—Ted Cruz

Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz released tax returns for several years on Saturday in an effort to pressure billionaire front-runner Donald Trump to follow suit.

Rubio, whose financial decisions earlier in his life have come under scrutiny, paid $78,917 in taxes on $335,561 in gross income in 2014, along with his wife, Jeanette.

Cruz paid $389,124 in taxes on $1.2 million income in 2014 along with his wife, Heidi, who is employed by Goldman Sachs and currently on leave from the bank.

Rubio and Cruz, both first-term US senators, trail Trump in national polls and are fighting to stop the political novice from locking up the Republican nomination for the November 8 election after big wins in South Carolina and Nevada.

The real estate developer has said he will not release his returns until a routine audit has been completed.

"If Donald is embarrassed about his tax returns, it's up to the voters to assess the facts. It's time to stop delaying and come clean with the American people,” Cruz said in a statement.

Rubio released his last five years of federal returns on Saturday, while Cruz submitted four years.

Rubio said Trump, who has promoted his success as a businessman as one of his key qualifications for the presidency, may not be as wealthy as he suggests.

"I think part of it is he's not as rich as he says he is," Rubio said while campaigning in Georgia.

Rubio and his wife have only one debt: the mortgage on their house, the campaign said, seeking to emphasize that the senator had moved past previous financial woes.

Rubio often refers to the nearly $150,000 in student loan debt he incurred by the time he graduated from law school, paid off with proceeds made from his 2012 autobiography.

He also faced questions for struggling for several months in 2008 to pay the mortgage on his $384,000 South Florida home, despite a $300,000 salary from his job at a Miami law firm.

Rubio also drew scrutiny for liquidating a retirement account to cover expenses, such as home repairs and school fees. That was reflected in $68,241 of income as part of his 2014 return.

During his 2010 bid for the US Senate, which followed his stint as a Florida state lawmaker from 2005-2006, Rubio had to defend his use of a Republican Party-issued American Express credit card for more than $7,200 personal expenses, which he later paid back.

Trump has accused Rubio of living beyond his means.

Rubio's adjusted gross income in 2010 was $183,826 in 2010. It spiked to $929,439 in 2012, when his book "An American Son: A Memoir" was published.

"There is no doubt the Rubio family has come a long way from the days when their largest monthly expense was a check to (student loan provider) Sallie Mae and checks were sent in the mail to pay bills with the hope the payment did not arrive before the next paycheck was deposited into their account," Rubio's campaign said.

Cruz's wealth, with $1.2 million in combined income with his wife in 2014, placed them well above the $423,000 threshold of the top 1 percent of earners in Texas, according to a 2015 Economic Policy Institute report.

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