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Scott Brown hits Elizabeth Warren over income tax returns, zero-interest …

Elizabeth Warren Scott Brown vs.jpgView full sizeRepublican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren. (AP photos)

Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown‘s re-election campaign is taking aim at Elizabeth Warren, his chief Democratic rival, for her refusal to release six years of income tax returns and for accepting a zero-interest loan from her employer more than 15 years ago.

In a series of press releases sent on Tuesday, Brown’s campaign manager Jim Barnett lashed out at Warren for refusing to release six years of income tax returns, the latest number suggested by Brown in the ongoing battle on the topic.

The debate over taxes began when Brown voted with Republicans against legislation that would have enacted the “Buffett Rule,” imposing a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on the wealthiest Americans.

After Warren criticized Brown’s position, his campaign questioned whether Warren paid the optional higher Massachusetts income tax rate of 5.85 percent, citing her wealth in equity and investments worth around $14 million.

Before Warren said on Friday that she did not pay the higher rate, The Boston Globe challenged both candidates to release six years of tax returns.

In response, Warren challenged Brown to release two years of income tax returns, saying she would do the same.

Brown’s campaign hesitated but agreed to release six years of income tax returns, and Warren’s reluctance to release as many years drew increased ire from Brown’s team.

“It doesn’t take a Harvard Law degree to see through Elizabeth Warren’s game of cat and mouse and know she has something to hide,” Barnett said in a statement. “Warren’s nuanced refusal to disclose the tax years 2006 and 2007 exposes her hypocrisy when it comes to transparency in government.”

Warren’s campaign said the decision to release only four years relates to Warren’s new political status.

“Elizabeth Warren has been clear from the beginning that she would voluntarily release her tax returns and she is glad to see that Republican Senator Scott Brown has finally agreed to do the same,” said Alethea Harney, Warren’s press secretary. “Elizabeth is not a career politician like Senator Brown, but she will release her tax returns for her entire time in public service and by releasing four years of returns, she is providing the people of Massachusetts with a transparent and full accounting of her financial situation.”

Brown has said he would release his tax returns on Friday, because he is in Washington until Thursday. The suggested timing drew a response from Warren’s campaign, which said it would release her tax returns on Wednesday.

“Senator Brown has said he would release his returns on Friday afternoon — a typical Washington game of releasing bad news when there is traditionally little news coverage,” Harney said. “Elizabeth thinks we should be more straightforward and make both returns available tomorrow.”

Brown’s campaign also hit Warren over a zero-interest loan she received in 1996 from Harvard Law School, where she currently teaches. Such incentives are common among institutions in relation to compensation packages.

Financial disclosure reports reveal the loan was for between $15,000 and $50,000, and Brown’s campaign repeated its charge that Warren is a “hypocrite” for taking it while arguing for lower student loan rates.

Warren’s campaign had not yet responded to a request for a statement about the loan from Harvard.

Earlier this week, Brown joined Warren in her previous call for Congress to pass legislation ensuring that interest rates on federal Stafford loans for low- and middle-income undergraduates do not double in the coming months.

Under the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, interest rates on subsidized Stafford Loans were gradually reduced from the 2006 rate of 6.8 percent to today’s 3.4 percent rate. But without Congressional action, the provision will expire on July 1, meaning that all student loans disbursed on that day moving forward will be subject to the 6.8 percent interest rate.

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