in Houston, Texas

Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker releases tax returns for self, partner to Texas Watchdog

Friday, Nov 13, 2009, 07:17AM CST
By Steve Miller
Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker has made public the personal federal income tax returns for herself and her longtime domestic partner, responding to a request by Texas Watchdog earlier this month of both Parker and her opponent, attorney Gene Locke.

In a nod to the transparency she has touted as part of her campaign platform, Parker, who is Houston's incumbent city controller, on Friday released three years of single-filer forms for herself and her partner, accountant Kathy Hubbard.

Texas Watchdog is making those tax forms available here. (See below)

Meanwhile, Locke's campaign has not released his tax forms, and his campaign has not yet responded to several Texas Watchdog requests to do so. Texas Watchdog made the tax return requests to the candidates the day after the election which led to the Locke-Parker runoff.

While Parker and Hubbard show no great wealth on the tax forms, the release of the information carries a social and political significance that transcends the Houston mayoral race, an analyst explained.

"Her thinking on this appears to look at the argument that this kind of relationship is just like a heterosexual marriage," said Andrea Campbell, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "She is making it known that she is in a similar kind of partnership, and in a way normalizing the union. And she has been open about being a lesbian, and this is one more sign of openness and transparency."

If she prevails in the Dec. 12 runoff, Parker would become the first openly gay woman elected to lead a major U.S. city. She was the leading vote-getter in the city's Nov. 3 mayoral race, topping Locke as well as City Councilman Peter Brown and local education trustee Roy Morales.

While she has addressed the issue of her sexuality, she has not based her campaign on it. Nor has she used it as a focal point of her political career, which includes six years on the Houston City Council and the last six years as the city's elected chief financial officer.

As a gay couple, Parker and Hubbard -- who have been together 19 years -- cannot file a joint return as a married couple, nor can they avail themselves of the tax benefits such a filing affords. Gay marriage was banned in Texas by a 2005 constitutional amendment, and 76 percent of Texas voters supported the ban. In Harris County, the amendment was approved by a margin of close to 3-1.

Neither Parker nor Locke are legally required to make public their tax returns. Like other elected city officials and candidates for city office, they were both required by state law to fill out an ethics form detailing their sources of income, their assets and their business affiliations.

Texas Watchdog published those forms earlier this year. (Parker's is at this link and Locke's is here.) However, the income amounts on those forms aren't required to be reported in specific numbers, only in broad ranges -- for instance, profits on a stock sale would be expressed as being "Between $1,000 and $4,999," or being "$25,000 or more."

At the same time, the public generally has few other ways to access a political figures' tax returns unless the forms are voluntarily proffered by the candidates, as income tax returns are exempt from federal freedom of information laws.

In the tax forms, Parker is noted as head of household.

The 2008 forms show a family of four -- the couple has two adopted children, Marquitta and Daniela -- earned $154,983 in 2008, with Parker making the lion's share, with $122,436 in annual income. Parker reported wages of $116,914 for the year, plus $4,964 in real estate income and a refund of $16,073, largely due to her taking deductions for three dependents, including herself and the two children.

Parker has claimed credit for donations of cash and property of around $5,000 for each of the past three years. In 2006, her itemized deductions went to a number of area benefactors, including the Houston Area Women's Center and Mr. K animal shelter.

Hubbard's 2008 adjusted gross income was $32,547, including $8,071 from her real estate holdings. She lists her occupation as an enrolled agent, which means she is a professional tax preparer who has passed an Internal Revenue Service test. Hubbard is past president of the Texas chapter of the National Association for Enrolled Agents.

Hubbard operates Hubbard Financial Services as her primary means of income and also lists a token income -- $14 in 2008 -- as a notary public. She was the tax preparer on all the returns.

Both are involved in two other business entities, Silver Street Properties and Parker Hubbard Investments. Both Parker and Hubbard claimed damage from Hurricane Ike last year on properties, one in Galveston and one in Houston.

In 2007, Parker made a small fiscal misstep: She cashed in Krugerrands in two separate transactions. In one, she sold five of the one-ounce South African gold pieces that she bought for $419 a piece for $773 a piece. In another, she sold nine pieces that she bought for $418.50 a piece for $670. Today, gold is trading at more than $1,000 an ounce.

Overall, the returns are more significant for the apparent nod to transparency than for any financial revelations, at this point.

"These are very standard returns, very fiscally conservative with some real estate investments," said Houston CPA Bob Martin, who has scrutinized numerous candidate tax returns.

Photo by Zblume used via Wikimedia Commons.

The forms in PDF format:
Annise Parker's 2006 income tax return
Annise Parker's 2007 income tax return
Annise Parker's 2008 income tax return
Kathy Hubbard's 2006 tax return
Kathy Hubbard's 2007 tax return
Kathy Hubbard's 2008 tax return
tired dog
Sunday, 11/15/2009 - 01:27PM

Interesting. In years gone by, when asked about revealing her partner's info, Annise was reputed to have responded to the effect that as they were not married, there was no requirement to do so and indeed this 'accrued to her benefit'.

Is Hubbard listed on Parker's conflict of interest report?

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