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Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Decision Tree: How To Decide Whether to Release Your Taxes

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jason plummer taxesJason Plummer won't release his taxes. Pat Quinn says Jason Plummer's hiding something. Bill Brady won't say whether he agrees with Jason Plummer's decision. The story won't stop.

Maybe Jason Plummer knows that.

It's not that far a stretch to think a 27-year-old exec in his family's downstate lumber business who's kinda-sorta mislead folks about his qualifications and has never held elected public office might be wise in how the media relentlessly follows a story.

And by "not that far a stretch" we mean "really far a stretch."

But he's learning, and the lesson applies to any candidate -- hi Bill Brady -- who decides not to divulge their taxes. The lesson is this: you must be able to outlast the relentless media questioning and the relentless prodding of your competitors. Otherwise you end up folding and losing more than you gained by refusing in the first place.

Take Bill Brady's example.

Bill Brady didn't release his taxes. Quinn said that was deplorable. Brady said he didn't want to distract from the issues. Quinn said that was deplorable. Brady decided to release his taxes for three hours. Quinn said that was deplorable. So did the media. And, turns out Brady was hiding something -- he didn't actually pay taxes. Now that's a campaign issue.

That Brady can explain his non-payment doesn't matter. What matters is that he tried to cover it up.

Now, the only way for Jason Plummer to escape unscathed from his tax snafu is if his taxes are impeccable. If they're not, or if he's revealed to be a lumber baron on a Carnegie-like scale, the media will make an issue of it. No harm, big foul.

And so. For Jason Plummer's benefit, we've created a little decision tree to help him the next time he decides not to release his taxes. The basic lesson: the sooner you release your taxes, the fewer media stories created that you can't control.

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