- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday released 12 years of tax returns and called on her rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to follow her lead.

The move makes the New York Democrat the first candidate in the sprawling field to release her most recent return, and she becomes the instant leader in the push for transparency against President Trump, who has shielded his own tax history.

Mrs. Gillibrand said voters deserve full disclosure from everyone seeking the White House.

“I want voters to know that I am beholden to no one, that my values are not for sale, and that I am working only for you,” she said in an online video. “We can’t fundamentally change Washington unless we can show the American people we are brave enough to do what needs to be done.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has yet to release her 2018 return, but has disclosed her tax history from 2008 to 2017. Sen. Bernard Sanders has said he plans to release 10 years of tax returns “sooner rather than later” after sharing a single year of tax information during his 2016 bid.

Lis Smith, spokesperson for Pete Buttigieg, said the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has launched an exploratory bid, also plans to share his tax history if he officially enters the race.

The Associated Press reported that former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke indicated during his first campaign swing through Iowa he is willing to release his tax returns.

Other candidates did not respond to inquiries from The Washington Times about their plans — though Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California have released parts of their tax histories in previous campaigns.

Disclosing tax returns is not required for presidential candidates, who instead file a more general statement of financial interests. Yet over the last several decades every major-party nominee has voluntarily released returns, save for Mr. Trump.

The president says he’s facing IRS audits and won’t release his returns as long as that’s ongoing.

Congressional Democrats have vowed to take legislative action, including perhaps using a portion of the law that lets a committee demand to see someone’s returns.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, meanwhile, is expected soon to request formally access to Mr. Trump’s filings, potentially leading to a showdown with the Treasury Department.

More broadly, the Democrat-led House passed a bill earlier this month that would force presidents, vice presidents and major party nominees to disclose 10 years of tax returns.

Mrs. Gillibrand’s release of her tax returns from 2007 through 2018 comes days after she officially kicked off her presidential bid outside Trump Tower in New York. So far she has struggled to gain traction in the race.

Her disclosure Wednesday reported that she earned nearly $218,000 last year through the combination of her $167,634 congressional salary and an additional $50,000 from a book deal.

She paid $29,170 in federal taxes, giving her an effective federal tax rate of 13.6 percent.

The sole return that Mr. Sanders shared in the 2016 nomination race showed that in 2014 he paid a similar federal rate of 13.5 percent, while Ms. Warren’s 2017 return showed she and her husband paid an effective tax rate of 29 percent.

The 2015 return that Ms. Harris shared during her Senate bid show she and her husband paid an effective federal tax rate of 32 percent.

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