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We have a long tradition of respecting the privacy of everyone’s tax returns. And there are very good reasons for that longstanding tradition. A person’s income, how he invests, whether or not he gave to charity and what provisions of the tax code were used in the preparation of a person’s tax returns is no one’s business but the tax return filer and the IRS. There are abundant reasons why this privacy is sacred and few would argue against them….except for one glaring exception. Somehow many in the voting public feel that that right should be voluntarily surrendered by anyone wishing to run for public office.

Is it any wonder that many very competent and patriotic citizens knowing that  running for a high public office will entail a virtual  personal life  proctological examination by both the press and his opponent …..and then be additionally pressured to give up the privacy of his tax returns, decide not to serve their country in an elected high public office?

I maintain there is no valid reason for the public to virtually require political candidates to publicly reveal their tax returns  for the same reason that anyone not running for office should not be equally pressured. If there were illegal financial transactions in anyone’s tax return….including a political candidate… is the job of the IRS to determine that….not the public.

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The amount of  taxes a person paid, so long as he followed the tax laws, should not be subject to public scrutiny any more than how charitable that candidate was. These facts are just as private as the candidates sex life and no pressure should be brought to bare for them to reveal either as a condition for being elected to public office.

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Candidates running for high public office are required to prepare a financial statement of assets and liabilities. That is all the financial information the public needs to know about a candidate for public office.

The hypocrisy of a nation that creates a complex tax code of hundreds of thousands of pages of special interests tax breaks, and then when someone astutely uses those onerously complex tax rules which results in a candidate paying a lower tax percentage of income than most people….suddenly there is an outcry of unfairness as if the candidate cheated the public …when in fact he followed the tax code the the letter. Did this whiny folks actually expect anyone….including a candidate for public office to pay more taxes than the tax law said he had to? Clearly not. Warren Buffet and other rich liberals who complain that the rich do not pay “their fair share” and should have their tax rates increase….never pay more than they have to….even though they have a perfect right to voluntarily pay more taxes than are owed. BUT NO ONE DOES……AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT. Therein lies the hypocrisy largely based on class envy.

Many candidates running for high public office make a financial sacrifice in so doing. Part of that sacrifice should not be giving up their right to privacy of their tax returns just to satisfy the public’s insatiable appetite for financial voyeurism.


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Gordon A Uehling Jr

Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy in 1961. Two combat tours in Vietnam, one afloat, the other in the Mekong a Delta. I have been a sales executive with a computer terminal company, computer operations manager for a major NYC commercial bank, a Vice President at a major NYC savings bank and lastly the General a Partner of a financial limited partnership investing in deal arbitrage. For about 15 years I was a part time actor for commercials and industrial films and was a member of a small theatre company in Manahattan. I am still a member of SAG/AFTRA. I have a 44 year old son by my first marriage. I remarried in 2001 and my wife and I live in McLean, Virginia, where I have been retired for two years.


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