DENVER — Multimillionaire Democratic Rep. Jared Polis led the charge for President Trump to turn over his tax returns, but now the Colorado gubernatorial candidate is coming under fire for refusing to release his own.
Mr. Polis, the richest Democrat in Congress with a net worth estimated at $313 million, has so far declined to make his tax returns available to media outlets after the Republican Governors Association aired an ad criticizing him for paying no income taxes for five years.
“Jared Polis didn’t pay income taxes, but he wants to raise yours,” said the RGA ad released Sept. 6. “Higher income taxes, higher energy taxes, higher taxes on everyone. Except maybe Jared Polis.”
Mr. Polis has explained that he didn’t pay taxes in the years when he reported net losses from his internet businesses, telling reporters this week, “No one has ever accused me of not paying taxes. I’ve paid every penny I’ve owed in taxes.”
The Polis campaign fired back with its own spot blasting “false TV ads” and calling on local television stations to pull the RGA ad, but so far the commercial is still airing.
Mr. Polis pointed out that his Republican opponent, state treasurer Walker Stapleton, has also refused to release his income tax returns. Then again, Mr. Stapleton didn’t make the president’s tax filings an issue after the 2016 presidential election, as Mr. Polis did.
Shortly after Mr. Trump assumed office, Mr. Polis sponsored a resolution directing the House to request the president’s 2006-15 tax returns for review by the House Ways and Means Committee, but the move was blocked by Republicans.
“[T]he American people have the right to know whether or not their president is operating under conflicts of interest related to international affairs, tax reform, government contracts or otherwise,” said Mr. Polis in a floor speech March 20, 2017.
As a member of Congress, Mr. Polis was required to file annual income disclosure forms, which are considerably less detailed than federal tax returns.
The pressure on the 2018 candidates comes in part because Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican Bob Beauprez set an example in 2014. Both millionaires, the Colorado gubernatorial hopefuls released several years of returns in that race, which Mr. Hickenlooper won.
The RGA ad also criticized Mr. Polis for using onshore and offshore tax havens in the Cayman Islands. His 2008 returns released in his first bid for Congress showed he was director of a limited partnership that managed investments in a Cayman corporation.
Both the corporation and partnership were dissolved less than a year after he took office, and Mr. Polis said that he did not invest his own money in the offshore account, according to CBS4’s Shaun Boyd.
“Releasing tax documents is an important, albeit uncomfortable, step for transparency,” said the Denver Post in a Tuesday editorial. “It’s a tradition we hope Polis and his opponent Walker Stapleton will continue by releasing at least five years of tax returns before the November election.”
Mr. Polis, one of the “gang of four” liberal megadonors who sunk millions into flipping the state legislature blue, has so far spent $18 million of his fortune into his gubernatorial bid. Mr. Stapleton has paid out about $1 million of own money.
Mr. Polis was the wealthiest Democrat and second-richest member of Congress, behind Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, according to a 2015 report by the Center for Responsive Politics.
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