Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand take tax disclosure to new level

New York’s two Democratic senators recently joined a small group of federal elected officials who have released their tax returns.

Their disclosures come as pressure builds on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release more of his returns.

Within the same 24-hour period, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand became the first Senate lawmakers to post their income tax returns on their official government websites.

Schumer released his 2011 tax return, while Gillibrand released five years of returns dating to 2007, when she began her congressional tenure as a member of the House.

“The more I kept reading in the press about this debate about presidential taxes, the more I really thought it was the right thing to do,’’ Gillibrand said in an interview. “I thought it was an additional step I could take to lead by example.’’

Gillibrand considers her decision a natural next step in her efforts to make government more transparent. During her first year in the House, she created a “Sunlight Report’’ on her official website. The report made her the first member of Congress to post all her requests for earmarked spending, her schedule and her annual personal financial disclosure report.

Earlier this year, Gillibrand was a leading Senate advocate for passage of the STOCK Act, which requires members of Congress, top administration officials and federal judges to publicly report most financial transactions of $1,000 or more within 45 days.

The legislation, first proposed in 2006 by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, gained momentum this year as lawmakers focused on restoring public confidence in Congress.

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