The interest in requiring candidates of high level positions to report their tax fillings is gaining some traction. As The Hill reports, NJ lawmakers this week passed legislation that would force any presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose their federal tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballots starting in 2020. The bill, of course, was inspired by Donald Trump’s refusal to reveal his own tax records. New Mexico, Hawaii, Oregon and California are pursuing similar bills.
For individuals who aspire to high level political positions it is not unreasonable to expect them to release their tax returns. Information on the amount and sources of their income, charitable contributions, other deductions, and tax payment and rate seem reasonable. They already have to submit data on their campaign finances. However, we know little about their personal holdings in stock and their side jobs which can influence their decisions. Indeed, as a minimum, it serves as proof they filed their taxes. U.S. presidential candidates in recent history have released their returns except for Donald Trump.
Governor Jon Corzine release his records, Gov. Jim McGreevey displayed his filings going back to the days when he was a mayor, and Governor Christie has regularly posted his filings each year on the state website.
Legislators are loathe to release their filings, and getting them to do so will not be easy. One NJ lawmaker currently in the race for governor voted in favor of the legislature’s Trump tax return bill, but has not released his own filings. Below are the search results for our gubernatorial candidates.
- Former Ambassador Phil Murphy: and his wife who filed jointly, according to Politico, made $7.3 million last year and paid $2.4 million in federal and state taxes. He earned $6.4 million in 2014, $4.9 million in 2013, $3.8 million in 2012, $2.7 million in 2011 and $3.2 million in 2010. Virtually all the income was from investments. Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who is seeking his party’s nomination for governor, called Murphy’s refusal to fully release his tax returns “insulting.” He said, “Members of the press, with no professional tax expertise” were given two hours to review what are likely hundreds of pages of highly-complicated tax returns.”
- Assemblyman John Wisniewski and his wife, according to NJ Advance Media, made about $462,000 in 2015 and more than $4.6 million over the last 14 years. They also gave $8,444 in charity. In all, they donated $57,061 to charity from 2002 to 2015. He voted Yes for release of presidential candidate records.
- State Senator Ray Lesniak: No record found of release of his tax returns, but he voted Yes for release of presidential candidate records.
- Former UnderSecretary of the U. S. Treasury Department Jim Johnson: No record found of release of his tax returns.
- Activist Bill Brennan: No record found of his release of his tax returns.
- L. Governor. Kim Guadagno: She has made available her joint tax returns with her husband from 2009 through 2015 on the State’s website. Her 2015 return indicates their gross income was $340, 000 and paid $77,000 ( 23%) in taxes. Their 2009 return shows $317,000 in gross income and $3,600 in taxes.
- Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli: No record found for release of his tax records. He called Murphy’s release a “peekaboo” with too many limitations. He added that he planned to release his returns without similar restrictions. One estimate from a seemingly disreputable scandal site suggests his net worth is approximately $447,000. He voted NO on release of presidential candidate returns.
- Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers and advisor to Trump: No record found of release of his tax records. He shows shades of Trump as he enters the race.
- Ocean County businessman Joseph Rullo: No record found of release of his tax records.
Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Joe Piscopo: No record found of release of his tax records. According to NJ Advance Media, he has decided he will not run for NJ governor as a Republican and instead is planning to declare he will jump into the race to succeed Gov. Christie as an Independent. If he follows through, in the General Election he would likely take votes away from Guadagno, further helping the Democratic candidate. He would also become the best known Independent on the ballot.
How our legislators voted on the Trump tax return bill is here.