SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 28, 2012

Controversy brews over tax returns

Tax returns are the latest flap in the bruising campaign between Rep. John Tierney and Richard Tisei in the 6th Congressional District race.

Both sides released their returns to The Salem News and other news outlets this week, then quickly led attacks on the other for the contents — or lack thereof.

Tisei’s returns reveal that the Republican did not pay federal income taxes in 2006 and 2008 because of reported losses from the real estate firm he owns with his business and life partner, Bernard Starr.

Tierney’s camp quickly pounced on the news.

“Mr. Tisei’s first round of tax returns show that he did not pay a dime in federal income taxes for two years, all while he was drawing a salary, courtesy of Massachusetts taxpayers,” said Tierney spokesman Grant Herring. “Middle-class families struggling to make ends meet do not understand how Mr. Tisei could ridicule half of the country for not paying taxes, when he does not pay any himself.”

Herring was referring to a November 2011 interview on NECN where Tisei said the tax code should be reformed because half of the country doesn’t pay taxes.

The Tierney camp also claimed that Tisei is “a millionaire,” pointing to a 2011 financial closure form that suggests he has assets totaling more than $2 million.

The six years of tax returns that Tisei provided to The Salem News, however, indicate that he is a modest earner.

Tisei claimed a net income of minus $10 in 2006, stemming from $73,600 in business losses. His adjusted gross income after a health care deduction in 2006 was minus $5,024.

Tisei did worse in 2008, racking up $98,000 in business losses and reporting an adjusted gross income of minus $11,688.

In the years Tisei reported positive income, he averaged gross adjusted income of nearly $105,000 and paid an annual tax of nearly $16,000.

While the Tierney campaign attacked Tisei for not paying taxes, Tisei’s camp was ripping the congressman for doing the same.

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