Christine Stuart file photo
Former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays announcing his candidacy at the Old State House in January (Christine Stuart file photo)

(Updated 8:46 p.m.) U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy announced earlier this week that he would release his tax returns and challenged other candidates in the U.S. Senate race to do the same. Former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays accepted the challenge and released his 2011 tax return one day before Murphy.

Shays, one of a handful of Republicans vying for U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s seat, reported to the Internal Revenue Service that he and his wife, Betsi, had an adjusted gross income of $373,694, of which $108,034 came from their pensions.

Shays earned about $48,600 for his work on the board of North Highland and speaking engagements, but the bulk the income $205,435 came from his job with the Commission on Wartime Contracting and his wife’s job with the City of Alexandria in Virginia. 

The Shays’ only owed about $11,159 in taxes because the couple had about $46,971 withheld and applied $16,467 in estimated tax payments from 2010. They also had about $10,845 in rental income from their property in Maryland.

Shays’ campaign spokeswoman Amanda Bergen said in a statement that the campaign released the 2011 returns because “the President of the United States released his 2011 tax return, Mitt Romney has released his 2011 return estimates, Chris Murphy says he plans to release his return, and Christopher Shays has released his 2011 tax return.”

However, it’s unlikely the tax return opposing campaigns want to see is that of the Shays or the Murphys.

“If Linda McMahon is a serious candidate for the United States Senate, there’s no reason why she shouldn’t release her return as well,” Bergen said.

Christine Stuart photo
Linda McMahon (Christine Stuart photo)

But McMahon, who spent $50 million on her failed 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate, won’t be releasing her tax return anytime soon.

“As a candidate for the United States Senate, Linda has filed all of the required financial disclosures both in 2010 and this year,” Erin Issac, a campaign spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. “She has released hundreds of pages of financial information about her holdings and personal worth. This information is available to the public through the Secretary of the Senate’s office in Washington, D.C. or the Secretary of State’s office here in Connecticut.”

But none of that information is available online. The Greenwich Time had an opportunity to go over McMahon’s 2011 filing with the Secretary of the Senate in March and reported that McMahon and her husband, Vince, own between $92 million and $355 million in stocks, bonds, and other securities that routinely pay millions in dividends and interest, which are taxed at a lower rate than earned income.

The decision to release the private tax documents likely was a political calculation, but Connecticut Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said she believes the candidates should release the documents because “it shows transparency and you want our representatives in Washington representing our interests.”

“Disclosure is important for transparency and it instills trust in the voters,” DiNardo said.

In 2010, Democrats tried to paint McMahon as an out-of-touch Greenwich millionaire, which proved difficult since their own candidate, Richard Blumenthal, also was a millionaire and also lived in Greenwich.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, four of the seven members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation can count themselves as millionaires, but Murphy isn’t one of them.

In fact, reports that Murphy is among the least wealthy members of the House. He was ranked at 373rd with a net worth of between minus-$28,992 and $240,000.

Murphy will release his 2011 tax returns tomorrow at 11 a.m.

“Over the next few years, the Senate is going to be making big decisions about simplifying the tax code and asking the wealthiest taxpayers to pay their fair share,“ Murphy said Monday. “With these hard choices ahead of us, Senate candidates’ finances should be totally transparent so that voters can decide whether a candidate’s position on taxes is in the public interest or just their private interest.”

State Rep. William Tong and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, whose campaign previously said it was “unlikely” to release her tax return when asked by the New London Day, have both agreed to release their tax returns as well. Bysiewicz’s campaign said they would release hers on Thursday. There’s no date scheduled yet for the release of Tong’s information.