Put up or shut up. After a group of Democratic leaders staged a press conference last week to demand that Mitt Romney release more of his tax returns, ABC News asked the group if they would make public their 1040s, too. Several refused to do so -- but not Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, whose tax posture is remarkably uninflected compared to that of some of his fellow Aspenites. And a lot simpler, evidently, than that of other Democrats, who spurned the network's request.
While Romney was reportedly collecting $2.5 million from Aspen fundraisers last week, Ireland joined Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio, state senator Gail Schwartz and others in statements denouncing Romney for his reluctance to share more than his 2010 and 2011 tax returns -- the least amount of disclosure of any presidential candidate in decades. (President Barack Obama has released twelve years of tax returns, available for inspection at the Tax History site.)
"That Mitt Romney won't talk about that offshore money -- where it is and how much it is -- is pretty telling," Ireland declared.
But when ABC News pressed the Romney tax critics for their own returns, several either didn't respond or refused, including Palacio, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Obama aide Robert Gibbs. By contrast, Ireland "told ABC News that his tax returns have never been an issue" and provided five years' worth.
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A Chicago native, Ireland worked a number of noble but ill-paying jobs in Aspen starting in the 1970s -- including dishwasher, bus driver, waiter and journalist -- before going back to school for a law degree. He was in private practice for five years before becoming a county commissioner. He's been mayor since 2007, during which time his gross income has ranged from $39,737 to $65,208. (ABC News didn't post the 2011 return.)
Aside from his modest mayoral salary, his income depends on whatever additional revenue he can bring in from lawyering, consulting, and substitute teaching on the side -- as well as a real-estate investment that's yielded between $10,000 and $26,000 in annual returns. He also appears to have consistently overpaid his taxes each year, preferring to credit the excess to the following year -- and let the government hold on to the money -- rather than seek refunds of the overpayment.
Ireland is a single man with no dependents, which makes his tax situation even simpler. Like that of most five-figure earners, his return is "completely boring," he told the Aspen Times in this account. Indeed, if not for the availability of subsidized housing for some public employees, it's doubtful that Aspen's mayor -- now in his third and last two-year term -- could afford to live there.
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