CARBONDALE – April 14, 2014. Illustrating her commitment to government transparency, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today released her 2013 tax returns along with personal financial statements for herself and her senior staff. Simon said the financial data goes beyond the disclosure required by law and is necessary for taxpayers to determine if she or her staff harbors any conflicts of interest. For a copy of Simon’s returns click here
This is the fourth consecutive year in state office that she released the data, a tradition she started as Carbondale City Council Member and will maintain while holding elected office.
“Transparency and accountability go hand in hand,” Simon said. “I invite residents to view my financial information and learn that I have no conflicts of interest. I urge state lawmakers to strengthen our disclosure laws so that taxpayers can trust their leaders.”
According to the tax returns, Simon and her husband, Perry Knop, a community college professor, reported adjusted gross income of $207,522 in 2013. They paid $44,393 in federal and state taxes, which equates to an effective tax rate of almost 27 percent (22 percent federal, 4.7 percent state).
Simon and Knop contributed more than $3,300 to charity, including support for Southern Illinois University Foundation and various arts, health and women’s organizations. Their primary debts include a mortgage for their Carbondale home and a car loan for a Ford Focus, and they sold stock to help pay for a daughter’s college tuition.
State law does not require elected officials to release tax returns, but they are mandated to file a Statement of Economic Interests each May. Simon, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and other good government advocates have criticized the mandated form for being too confusing and riddled with loopholes.
Simon backs legislation, SB 1361, that would overhaul the questions for the first time in 40 years. It passed the Senate with overwhelming support and is now in the House Rules committee.
The Chicago Tribune editorial board has called for passage, stating in a December editorial: “Disclosure statements, as they stand now, are a joke. Speaker Madigan, let this bill out of Rules and bring it to a vote. This kind of sunlight is really needed.”
Until the law changes, Simon encouraged lawmakers to voluntarily disclose their finances.