By Katherine Gregg
You paid income taxes: did your elected leaders?
Some did. Others won't say.
Here's the lineup: three of the state's five general officers -- Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, state Treasurer Frank Caprio and Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis -- agreed to make most, if not all, of their tax information public.
The state's senior U.S. senator, Jack Reed, also disclosed his tax filings, but his three Democratic congressional colleagues declined: U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, freshman Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who filed for an extension but signaled he will not make his tax return public at any time, and U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, a former secretary of state, who made his tax filings public during his first run for Congress in 2000 and then stopped.
Governor Carcieri, a Republican, also refused to disclose how much he paid in state and local income taxes. Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, one of the Democrats hoping to succeed him next year, disclosed the amount, her office said, she paid in taxes, but not her tax filings.
No law requires officeholders or candidates to make their tax returns public. But many seasoned politicians, from President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden on down, do so voluntarily, as did Carcieri's and Roberts' predecessors.
Last Wednesday, for example, the White House released the tax returns of the president and vice president, calling the act "another demonstration of the president's commitment to openness and transparency." For the record: the Obamas paid $855,323 in federal income tax and $77,883 in Illinois state tax on an adjusted gross income of $2,656,902, with the majority of their 2008 income coming from the sale of the president's books.
A spokeswoman for the vacationing Carcieri said he has never made his tax return public, and doesn't intend to now because "it is not required."
Only Langevin, a paraplegic who was crippled by an accidental shooting in his teenage years, provided an explanation for his reluctance. A statement issued by his office said: "Congressman Langevin will not be releasing his tax returns, primarily because he wishes to keep his personal care and medical expenses private." Asked why Caprio was willing to go public with his tax information, his chief of staff Mark Dingley said: "Frank believes in transparency and wishes other state officers would similarly comply."
Here at a glance is the tax scoop:
•Roberts' office said she paid $9,509 in state taxes, and $38,135 in federal taxes -- and made $10,880 in charitable contributions -- out of her family's undisclosed 2008 income. A spokesman gave no explanation for her unwillingness to make her tax returns public, but said she would file all requisite disclosures with the state Ethics Commission, including a "listing of all assets and any source of income over $200."
•Mollis, a father of two filing as an individual head of household for the first time since his recent divorce -- paid $8,869 in federal taxes, and $2,449 in state taxes on his $89,125 adjusted gross income, after a total of $23,378 in itemized deductions for state and local taxes, medical and dental expenses, $12,506 in home mortgage interest, $1,880 in donations to "church and miscellaneous charities." He is owed refunds of $895 from the state and $1,709 from the federal government.
•Caprio and his wife, Gabriella, paid $18,688 in federal taxes, and $5,664 in Rhode Island state taxes on their adjusted gross income of $138,780. That included her $59,581 salary as a Spanish and Italian teacher at Providence's Central High School, and his $76,343 in net income as treasurer, according to his staff. A portion of his $99,214 salary is salted away in a deferred-compensation plan. They gave a reported $11,379 in charitable contributions.
Caprio did not make public his entire joint tax return or detail the $25,114 in itemized deductions. But the Caprio household can look forward to refunds of $2,066 from the state, and $4,420 from the federal government, according to the top two pages of his filings.
•Lynch and his wife, Christin, paid $8,156 in federal taxes and $3,123 in state taxes on their family's $102,463 adjusted gross income, after taking $18,593 in itemized deductions on their federal tax return and reporting a $614 loss on her jewelry business. They are due a $1,607 state tax refund, and a $7,356 federal tax refund.
•Reed and his wife, Julia Hart Reed, paid $37,178 in federal and $6,492 in Rhode Island income taxes, on an adjusted gross income of $241,160, which included his $150,526 pay as a U.S. senator and her $86,772 pay as an aide to the secretary of the Senate. Before taking a $150 child care credit, and a $3,613 deduction for taxes paid to other states (Virginia), his Rhode Island tax totaled $10,255.
His deductions included $36,998 in home mortgage interest, $42,872 in unreimbursed business travel expenses and a portion of the $5,888 in unreimbursed meal expenses he reported on his return.
As his press secretary Chip Unruh explained: "The tax home for a member of the U.S. Congress is the member's residence in the state that the member represents. Accordingly, deductions for meals and lodging while away from home in Washington, D.C. are deductible but limited to $3,000 for these unreimbursed living expenses, in accordance with Revenue Code Section 162(a)."
All taxpayers have the option of contributing up to $10 to the state's publicly-financed "matching-funds" program for candidates for the top state offices. Reed, Caprio and Mollis did; Lynch did not.