In race to divulge tax returns, Shays is first
Washington — The candidates in Connecticut’s Senate race seem to have taken a page from the presidential campaign when it comes to taxes.
All major candidates, except for Republican Linda McMahon, say they will release their returns this week.
Former Rep. Chris Shays, a Republican, beat his rivals to the punch by releasing his 2011 return on Tuesday, and Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, followed on Wednesday.
Shays and his wife Betsi paid $74,570 taxes on an adjusted gross income of $373,694.
The couple reported $205,435 in salaries, $105,113 from pensions and annuities and $3,698 in taxable Social Security benefits. Shays reported another $48,600 for his work on the board of North Highland, a consuting firm, and some speaking fees. He also reported $10,845 in rental income for property he owns on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Shays’s deductions included $7,900 for charitable contributions and $56,773 in mortgage interest.
Murphy disclosed his 2011 state and federal returns Wednesday. The congressman and his wife Catherine Holahan reported income of $220,125, all of it in salaries, and a tax federal tax liability of $45,499.
Murphy and his wife also reported $36,779 in deductions and disclosed they paid $11,423 in Connecticut state taxes. He claimed no charitable deductions.
His campaign says Murphy’s federal tax rate was 22.4 percent.
Murphy on Monday challenged his rivals in the Senate race to release their returns.
In a campaign statement, Murphy said “over the next few years, the Senate is going to be making big decisions about simplifying the tax code and asking the wealthiest taxpayers to pay their fair share.”
“With these hard choices ahead of us, Senate candidates’ finances should be totally transparent so that voters can decide whether a candidate’s position on taxes is in the public interest or just their private interest,” Murphy said.
Shays and Democrats Susan Bysiewicz and William Tong took up Murphy’s challenge and said they would also release their returns.
President Obama made taxes a part of his campaign this week by releasing his 2011 return and urging likely GOP rival Mitt Romney to do the same.
Romney, who paid less than 14 percent in taxes on millions of dollars earned from investments in 2010, filed for a six-month extension of his 2011 taxes.
Like Romney, McMahon, is very wealthy. Her family runs WWE, a professional wrestling conglomerate, and she was able to spend $50 million of her own money in her 2010 bid for the Senate.
Obama and Murphy, one of the least wealthy members of the House, are running on a theme of tax fairness. They say they want to raise taxes on the investments of Americans who earn more than $1 million.
“The fact that many millionaires pay less in taxes than 99 percent of working families is simply not fair and only adds to our ballooning deficit,” Murphy said.
Vincent Moscardelli, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said Obama and Murphy are trying to draw a clear distinction with their rivals by comparing their personal finances.
But Moscardelli said the tax return debate isn’t likely to have staying power.
“I don’t think this is the kind of story the average vote is going to be paying attention to in a couple of months,” he said.
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