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Clinton releases tax return, repeats challenge to Trump

Hillary Clinton releases her personal tax return for 2015 — revealing she paid an effective federal tax rate of 34.2 per cent — and again challenges Republican rival Donald Trump to follow suit.

Democratic hopeful paid effective federal tax rate of 34.2% in 2015

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in Miami, Fla., on Tuesday. Clinton paid an effective federal tax rate of 34.2 per cent last year according to tax returns made public on Friday. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton paid an effective federal tax rate of 34.2 per cent last year and a combined federal, state and local effective tax rate of 43.2 per cent, her campaign said on Friday.

Clinton's running mate, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, along with his wife, Anne Holton, paid a federal effective tax rate of 20.3 per cent in 2015, the campaign said.

"Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine continue to set the standard for financial transparency," Clinton campaign aide Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement. "In stark contrast, Donald Trump is hiding behind fake excuses and backtracking on his previous promises to release his tax returns."

It is customary for U.S. presidential candidates to make their tax returns public, although they are not required by law to do so.

Clinton's tax returns have been made public, in some form, every year since 1977.

Trump, a New York businessman, and his lawyers have cited an audit by the Internal Revenue Service as a reason he has refused to release his returns. Trump also has said his taxes are no one's business and that they reveal little.

The IRS has said Trump can release his tax returns even while under audit.

U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine or Virginia, and his wife Anne Holton make a campaign stop in Ashland, Ohio, on July 31. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Refusal raises questions

On Thursday, Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen, told CNN he would not allow Trump to release them until the audits are complete.

Critics, including 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other fellow Republicans, have said Trump's refusal raises questions about his net worth, his charitable contributions, his business dealings and various other ties, including with Russia.

Clinton has pounced on the issue, releasing an online video on Friday highlighting high-profile Republicans urging Trump to release his taxes. On Thursday, she raised the issue during an economic speech in Michigan.

"He refuses to do what every other presidential candidate in decades has done and release his tax returns," she told the crowd.

Politico has reported that Trump paid zero to very little taxes for two years in the 1990s, and a New York Times business columnist on Friday quoted a number of tax lawyers and accountants saying that could still be the case.

Clinton's campaign has released tax returns going back to 2007. Clinton, who now lives in Chappaqua, New York, paid an average effective federal tax rate of about 32 per cent from 2007 to 2014 and an effective combined tax rate of approximately 40.5 per cent.

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