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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

McMorris Rodgers releases tax return for ‘transparency,’ Brown says she will too

 (The race for Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District will probably draw the most attention around the country as incumb)

A day after the deadline most Americans met to file their federal tax returns, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is releasing hers, calling it an effort to restore trust and confidence in government.

Tuesday evening, Democratic challenger Lisa Brown, who had declined earlier requests to release her 2016 tax returns, agreed to follow suit with her 2017 return.

The tax return McMorris Rodgers filed jointly with her husband Brian Rodgers, being made public Wednesday morning, shows a total “adjusted gross income” of $211,795. After deductions, they had taxable income of $141,782, and owed $26,638 in taxes.

Because they had $32,357 in taxes withheld during the year, they’re getting a refund of $5,892.

“Releasing my tax returns is one way to earn the trust of the people of Eastern Washington – because at the end of the day, one foundation of trust is transparency,” McMorris Rodgers, who supported the 2017 tax reform bill passed by the Republican Congress, said in a statement released by her campaign.

That total income is less than the amount reported by Brown on the financial report she’s required to file as a candidate. Brown listed $283,749 for her salary from Washington State University for the first nine months of 2017, on a report filed at the end of September. Brown resigned her post as WSU-Spokane chancellor in August to run for Congress.

Brown had declined requests to release her 2016 tax return late last year and earlier this year. On Tuesday evening, however, her spokesman said Brown was releasing her 2017 return, which was finished and sent to the Internal Revenue Service earlier in the day. The Spokesman-Review will report on that later this week.

McMorris Rodgers’ 2017 tax return shows she and her husband reported some $155,500 in her wages, about $53,600 from his pension as a retired Navy aviator and $3,839 in dividends. Although a member of Congress makes $174,000, McMorris Rodgers reduced her taxable wages by putting money into a savings plan similar to a 401(k) account.

They also have two rental properties, a house in San Diego and a basement apartment in their Washington, D.C., home, which provided them a total of $4,800 in supplemental income after all expenses were deducted from the rent collected.

They reported a capital loss of $3,000. Previous losses erased a $6,100 capital gain in 2017 and allowed them the $3,000 loss deducion.

They had enough deductions to itemize and claim instead of the standard deduction, including about $10,000 in taxes, $16,500 in mortgage interest payments and $23,171 in charitable donations.

In recent months while reporting on the 2017 tax reform bill, The Spokesman-Review asked the members of the Washington and Idaho delegations that represent the Inland Northwest, as well as Brown, to release their 2016 tax returns. Only McMorris Rodgers agreed.

The other incumbents refused, with some saying the financial reports they are required to file already are public. Brown also directed reporters to the financial reports she filed as a federal candidate, as a better source of information – one of the arguments President Donald Trump has made in refusing to release his tax returns.

Although the financial reports do have a more thorough listing of assets a candidate or officeholder has, a big difference with tax returns is the way some income is reported. Under federal rules, the candidate or officeholder need only report a range of values for certain assets.

Brown’s financial reports show that she made more as the Washington State University-Spokane chancellor in nine months than McMorris Rodgers and her husband made for 2017. Brown also has a house in Spokane that she rents out, listing between $2,501 and $5,000 in income for the first nine months of 2017, and between $5,001 and $15,000 the previous year.

Those reports also show Brown held assets that include investments in various funds, her Spokane home and a state retirement plan that total between $757,000 and $1.8 million.

McMorris Rodgers’ financial report shows her assets include the rental properties, various investment funds and both Roth and traditional IRAs of between $1.2 million and $2.8 million.