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Santorum Tax Returns Draw Critics Of His Low Charitable Giving

Rick Santorum released four years' worth of tax returns Wednesday evening which showed that he is wealthy by any measure.

But his returns may also allow his critics, both those aligned with Mitt Romney, his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination and those who aren't, to attack the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania for not giving as much to charity as many others at his income level.

An excerpt from Politico, which first reported on the tax returns:

"Santorum and his wife Karen filed joint returns for all four years. As you'll see from the returns, the Santorums' adjusted gross income went from about $659,000 in 2007, his first year out of the Senate, to $952,000 in 2008, to $1.1 million in 2009 and about $923,000 in 2010.

"They paid about $167,000 in taxes in 2007, about $262,000 in 2008, $310,000 in 2009, and $263,000 in 2010.

"There is depreciation on a condo property over the various years. The Santorums' charitable giving was a small percentage of his income each year."

The Santorums actually gave less than two percent of their income to charity, a smaller percentage than the average for people in their income group though not extremely so. The average is slightly more than three percent.

It's much less than the 16 percent the Romney and his wife Anne donated to charity, however. That could present something of an opening for Santorum's critics to accuse him of talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to faith and social values. Many devout people of faith tithe, giving at least 10 percent of their income to their church.

The emerging criticism was apparent in a post by Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at the Washington Post.

"... In those four years he gave a shockingly tiny amount to charity. In no year was charitable giving more than 3 percent of his income, and he dipped below 2 percent in one year.

"He apparently believes in church doctrine about contraception but not about tithing."

Similar criticisms could be seen in the comments section of the Politico story.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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