Separate tax returns of McCain's wife shouldn't be released

The latest newsworthy item in the U.S. presidential race is the statement by Cindy McCain, wife of Republican candidate John McCain, that she will not release her personal tax returns. On Thursday's Today show (video below), she says that it's a privacy issue and she would not release her tax returns, even if her husband was elected president.

Of course, the Democrats are making a big deal about this, saying that when John Kerry was campaigning for president, his wife released her separate tax returns. So what? She made her choice, and Cindy McCain is making hers. It's suggested that John McCain is not making "full disclosure" by not releasing his wife's separate tax returns.

I say too bad. Even though he may have benefited from her family's fortune, the law doesn't say she has to release her tax returns. That is her private information and she is not the candidate. Would it make for some interesting reading? Probably. But I don't have any problem with Cindy McCain refusing to produce her tax returns. What is there really to be gained from seeing them, other than to fulfill our curiosity?

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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