By Katherine Gregg
Gone are the days when the majority of the state's top-level politicians were willing to disclose their income tax returns. Across the country, many major-league politicians still do so, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Obama.
But in Rhode Island, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is the only general officer keeping alive the annual tradition of voluntary disclosure followed by the late Rhode Island Gov. and U.S. Sen. John H. Chafee, and a long and now broken line of attorneys general, state treasurers, lieutenant governors, and governors.
The holdouts -- who now include Governor Chafee, son of the late senator -- are now in the majority.
Mollis paid a total of $7,353 in federal taxes and $2,336 in state taxes on his roughly $85,500 income in 2010.
Others would not say how much, if anything, they had paid in taxes, but noted they had filed the disclosure reports they are required by law to file annually with the Ethics Commission, which list their holdings and income in broad categories, such as "$50,001-to-$100,000."
Chafee spokesman Michael Trainor said: "I just confirmed with the governor that, in accordance with his long-standing custom, he will not be releasing his private tax returns to the public." Asked if Chafee and his wife, Stephanie, had paid any state or federal taxes, he said: "The governor has no further comment on this matter."
Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts said she, too, would decline, but suggested the annual financial disclosure statement she filed with the Ethics Commission "reveals a great deal more personal financial information, including business interests and sources of income and assets of my spouse and children, than is found on an income tax return. I feel it provides the appropriate level of financial disclosure."
"Yes, she does pay state and federal taxes," added her spokeswoman Maria Tocco, in response to an inquiry. "However, because of her family business, she filed an extension [as she does every year] and will not know her tax requirement until October."
A spokeswoman for new state Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo said she was unwilling to make her returns public "because it includes information about her former firm, Point Judith Capital." Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin provided no explanation.