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Rice releases tax returns

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice during a

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice during a campaign stop at Sutton Place bar and grille in Long Beach on Oct. 9, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Democratic congressional candidate Kathleen Rice Thursday released her federal income tax returns for the past three years and called on GOP opponent Bruce Blakeman to do the same.

Blakeman, an attorney and consultant who has reported earning more than $500,000 last year, did not release his returns. His campaign called Rice's request a "stunt" meant "to change the conversation from Rice's full support of President Obama and his policies."

Rice, the Nassau District attorney who is vying with Blakeman to succeed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) in the 4th Congressional District, said voters had the right to know Blakeman's tax rate.

"We know that Kathleen Rice pays her fair share and that she opposes loopholes for the wealthy that are paid for by seniors and the middle class," Rice spokesman Coleman Lamb said in a statement. "We also know that Bruce Blakeman believes high-income earners like himself are 'overburdened,' but in his case we have no idea what that burden is."

Rice reported gross income of between $156,809 and $159,930 annually since 2011. Her public salary was her only reported income, other than the prior year's tax refunds, which ranged from $114 to $621.

Rice reported paying between $36,810 and $39,440 per year in combined federal and state taxes during that period, according to Form 1040 filings that her campaign provided.

While Rice has been district attorney since 2006, Blakeman has been in the private sector since losing his seat on the Nassau County Legislature in 1999.

In a federal financial disclosure statement filed in May, Blakeman reported earning $515,000 in 2013, including $230,000 from his consulting firm, Madison Strategies, and $87,500 from the law firm he left in August 2013.

He also reported an investment and stock portfolio that paid dividends of between $3,000 and $30,000. The federal forms only require disclosure of income and holdings in broad ranges.

Blakeman campaign spokesman Matt Coleman said Blakeman would release his tax returns when Rice releases her email correspondence from her tenure as co-chair of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption.

Cuomo disbanded the commission early this year, and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is probing accusations that Cuomo aides interfered with the commission to protect the governor's allies.

Rice has declined Blakeman's demands to release her emails, saying she is assisting the investigation and wants to "preserve its integrity."On the campaign trail, Rice and Blakeman support federal tax cuts, providing varying levels of detail about their proposals.

Blakeman says he would "simplify" the tax code. In a recent interview, he said tax cuts "need to be across the board," and that he'd also consider supporting an increase in the minimum income threshold for having to pay taxes.

"I think you have to look at it not only from a percentage basis but from an income basis," Blakeman said. "I think we can get to a rate, a range of between 10 to 30 percent."

Rice pledges to "preserve and extend" reduced income tax rates for the middle class, expand the child and dependent care tax credit, expand deductions for college tuition payments, and increase the earned-income tax credit for workers without children while making younger adults eligible for the credit.

"There's no question that the tax code needs to be reformed," Rice said. "The question is how you reform it. I would never, never vote to raise taxes on middle-class Americans."

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