PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s most prominent political leaders are divided on whether they should allow the public to review their income tax returns and find out how much they paid the government.
Out of 12 leading politicians surveyed by WPRI.com, six said they would disclose the results of their 2011 tax filings as soon as they become available: U.S. Sen. Jack Reed; Congressman David Cicilline; Republican congressional candidate Brendan Doherty; Republican U.S. Senate candidate Barry Hinckley; Treasurer Gina Raimondo; and Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.
Tax rates have become a political hot potato in 2012. Democrats spent the last few weeks publicizing their proposed “Buffett rule” requiring a higher tax rate on income above $1 million, and President Obama is pressuring Republican Mitt Romney to release his returns. In the U.K., David Cameron may soon become the first British prime minister to disclose his tax bill.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who led Democrats in beating the drum for the Buffett rule, requested an extension to finish his 2011 tax returns, spokesman Seth Larson said. Larson declined to say whether Whitehouse will break with his past practice and release his returns once they’re completed. In 2010, Whitehouse disclosed that his net worth was at least $3.5 million.
Congressman Jim Langevin has not released his returns since 2000. “Langevin files the yearly financial disclosures filled out by members of Congress and, as you know, those are publicly available,” spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said. “He has never released his returns and will continue with this practice.” In 2010, Langevin disclosed that his net worth was at least $696,026.
Anthony Gemma, who jumped into the 1st Congressional District race against Cicilline and Doherty this week, said he won’t join the other two candidates and release his returns. “When I win, I’ll be happy to release my tax returns,” Gemma told WPRI.com, but “I have my family and partners to protect at this point.”
Governor Chafee is traveling in Afghanistan and unavailable for comment, but in past years he has declined to release his tax returns, unlike his father, the late U.S. Sen. John Chafee. Rhode Island’s other two general officers, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, won’t release their returns, either.
Roberts will file an expanded financial disclosure form with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission, which “reveals a great deal more personal financial information, including business interests and sources of income and assets of her spouse and children, than is found on an income tax return,” spokeswoman Maria Tocco said. “Lt. Gov. Roberts feels it provides the appropriate level of financial disclosure.”
Kilmartin spokeswoman Amy Kempe said: “The attorney general will file the required financial disclosure paperwork with the Ethics Commission, which is available to the public upon filing. The attorney general believes the financial disclosure statement provides the appropriate level of financial disclosure.”