BOSTON – Massachusetts' Republican gubernatorial candidate is being challenged about his eligibility to run for office based on residency requirements.
Mitt Romney, the former Salt Lake City Olympics chief, lived in Utah, where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held, from 1999 to 2001, and paid "primary residence" property taxes there.
As a result, Utah gave him a $54,000 tax discount on his $3.8 million Park City, Utah home, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
Opponents say the tax records prove that Romney doesn't meet the state Constitution's seven-year residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates. Romney, who says he has lived in Massachusetts for 28 years, also has a home in Belmont, Mass.
A Romney spokesman said Romney and the Summit County, Utah assessor both consider the "primary residence" designation a clerical mistake that will be corrected.
"Mitt was underbilled for his property tax," said Romney's spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. "If, as a result of the county's error, Mitt has to pay additional taxes, he will do so."
Romney, a multi-millionaire, paid only $22,599 on his home, about $54,000 less than would have been required by Utah law had he declared his primary residence in Massachusetts. Utah law allows residents to pay only 55 percent of their property tax if they live in the state, as opposed to 100 percent non-resident property owners must pay, the Globe said.
Fehrnstrom said Romney did not notice the tax break when he received it. "He, like most taxpayers, just cursed out loud and wrote the check," Fehrnstrom said.
Romney admits that he spent all his time in Utah while working on the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"There is no question I was living in Utah, 365 days a year for the last three years," Romney said Wednesday. "Massachusetts is my home, and I've always had an intention to return here."
Romney noted that politicians such as current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert Reich and former Republican Governor William Weld both lived in Washington D.C., but returned to Massachusetts to run for office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.