Gov. Romney's refusal to release a broad set of tax returns is a stunning lack of transparency from someone in pursuit of the highest office in the country. His actions highlight the need to change the law to require fuller disclosure from presidential candidates. I am preparing legislation to amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require presidential candidates to make public 10 years of tax returns and disclose overseas accounts.
In addition to requiring candidates to release 10 years of tax returns, the legislation would require presidential candidate's financial disclosures to include information not currently included on disclosures and not easily discernible from tax returns. These disclosures would provide a fuller picture of a candidate's financial holdings and interests. In general terms, the legislation would require the candidate to also disclose:
• The location (country), value, and economic purpose of each offshore account, holding or investment of the candidate (other than investments in publicly traded corporations).
• The portion of the candidate's capital gains income attributable to an investment of the candidate's capital and the portion that is earned by managing other people's money (i.e. carried interest income).
• Details of any ongoing compensatory arrangement between the candidate and any other individual or entity.
• More comprehensive disclosure of assets, including purchases and sales of assets, held by tax preferred accounts such as IRAs and 401(k) plans.
• Details of the assets and activities of any entity in which the candidate has a controlling interest.
For decades, presidential candidates have voluntarily provided a thorough accounting of their tax returns and finances, as they should. But we clearly cannot continue to rely solely on the willingness of a candidate to disclose fully what the public has a right to know about the candidate's financial record. Gov. Romney must immediately release these tax returns and explain them to the American people. The American people should not be left to wonder what he is not disclosing and why not.
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