Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich offered Sunday to release his tax returns this week and challenged rival Mitt Romney to do the same.

"The country deserves accountability and transparency," Gingrich said, announcing he will release his returns on Thursday.

"I'm going to try to set the example to provide the leadership to do the right thing," he added.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Gingrich said the former governor of Massachusetts will "never get through the fall without releasing his records."

He added that it would benefit Romney to release them now.

"It's better to do it in the primary season so the country understands what's going on and not wait and be surprised in September."

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that Romney will "look at the question of releasing tax returns during the next tax filing season."

Saul also fired back against the former speaker’s challenge, pointing to Gingrich's failure to disclose records about his work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

"Newt Gingrich is in no position to lecture anyone on disclosure. We are still waiting to see the records he promised to release about his taxpayer funded work for Freddie Mac," she said.

Asked about that response, Gingrich replied: "They can dot, they can dodge, they can dance, they can do whatever they want to – very simple question: is he prepared to release his taxes? I’m prepared to release mine."

Last week Romney held an impromptu press availability with reporters while on their way to South Carolina in which he stated that he pays in taxes "what is required by law."

"I don’t think anybody pays more than what is required by the law," he said, adding that he will "leave to the future what we may do with regards to tax returns."