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From Reps. Neal And McGovern, No Transparency On Tax Returns

Rep. Richard Neal, left, and Rep. Jim McGovern in file photos.
Rep. Richard Neal, left, and Rep. Jim McGovern in file photos.

Springfield Congressman Richard Neal, like many Democrats and some Republicans, has repeatedly called on President Trump to release his tax returns. 

Neal is the top Democrat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and has made that statement in hearings, including in late March.

"Every American president since Gerald Ford has yielded his tax forms to the public," Neal said.

Neal has a front seat, if not much of a say, in tax bill negotiations. He's been named one five House Democrats on the conference committee tasked with ironing out differences between the House and Senate proposals.

To see how the proposals would benefit or hurt Neal when he files his personal income taxes, in June we asked his office for a copy of his last two tax returns.

Then we asked again in July, August and September. And again in October, when Neal appeared in Springfield at an unrelated press conference.

"I think we should all jump together," he said. "I think that's the best way to approach it."

So if others release their taxes, so will he.

"At the right moment, sure," he said.

Another Massachusetts congressman, Democrat Jim McGovern of Worcester, had a similar response when we asked in September.

"Well, I'm happy to release my tax returns. I did when I first ran [for Congress]," McGovern said. "But here's the deal: I think we ought say we all should release our tax returns, and that includes the president."

The president has shown no sign he'll release his tax returns. And neither McGovern nor Neal have decided they're going to lead by example.

McGovern's office notes that like all members of Congress, he files financial disclosure forms. Those provide far less detailed information than tax returns do. They're missing exact income and what tax breaks a politician claims.

Neal and McGovern are not alone. The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call reported last summer that only a handful of members of Congress actually made their recent tax returns public.

Sam Hudzik has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He manages a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.
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