Freshman Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul of Erie County posted three years of her federal income tax returns on the Internet this morning, joining a small but growing number of members of Congress who have taken public transparency to a new level.
Hochul is challenging her Republican opponent, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, to also release his tax returns.
Veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of Fairport, Monroe County, also is planning to release her tax returns, according to campaign manager Liam Fitzsimmons.
Last month Sen. Chuck Schumer posted his 2011 tax return on his official website and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted five years of her tax returns dating back to 2007 when she first took office as a House member.
Gillibrand’s Republican challenger, attorney Wendy Long, has pledged to also post her tax returns.
Both New York senators said they decided to release their tax returns because of the national debate over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns. Romney has released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 taxes, but some Democrats have urged him to release more.
Schumer and Gillibrand are among a group of five Democratic senators who have released their tax returns.
Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin have each released their tax returns each year since the 1980s.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill released her 2011 tax return this year in response to a request from the McClatchy newspaper chain.
Several House members — including Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts — also release their tax returns.
Frank, McCaskill and Kohl release their tax returns to media organizations that make the request.
All members of Congress and candidates for Congress are required to file annual personal financial disclosures that list their assets, investment income and liabilities in broad ranges — such as $100,000 to $1 million — up to $5 million.
Most members of Congress consider that document to be sufficient public disclosure, but earlier this year Congress took an additional step by enacting the STOCK Act, which required lawmakers to also list, for the first time, any mortgages they owed. The STOCK Act also requires members of Congress, top administration officials and federal judges to publicly report most financial transactions of $1,000 or more within 45 days. Federal agencies are required by the end of this month to post the annual financial disclosure reports of 28,000 senior executive branch employees.
That has added to the attention that personal finances is getting this election cycle.
Here’s the link: www.kathyhochul.com/meetkathy/tax-returns/