Just how naked do we want our politicians?Somewhere between a trench coat and a Speedo sounds about right -- except that's a mighty broad spectrum.It's sort of like the annual financial disclosure forms Texas officeholders must file.The forms list employers, companies that pay fees to elected officials, board seats held, business ties to lobbyists, plus gifts and honorariums. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, rents, royalties, real estate holdings, trusts and business assets also must be listed, although amounts fall into broad categories: less than $5,000; $5,000-$9,999; $10,000-$24,999; and $25,000 or more. That means it's only possible to determine a general estimate of an individual's financial standing.With the presidential election highlighting the value of office-seekers disclosing their federal income tax returns, The Texas Tribune (texastribune.org) has started asking state legislators to show their papers: three years' worth of tax returns.Not all are ready to bare their bank accounts.House Administration Committee Chairman Charlie Geren, a Fort Worth Republican who's also known for his Railhead Smokehouse restaurant, sent colleagues a short letter Friday saying that lawmakers have no legal obligation to release their returns and that he didn't plan to. At least a couple of House Democrats have said they don't mind if they do. (bit.ly/RRL4Nm)Nothing wrong with asking.The Tribune asks often for a variety of documents, then posts them in online databases that have become a treasure-trove of information, from listings of salaries for employees at Texas universities, state agencies and public school districts, to a comparison chart based on tax returns from the four top contenders (pre-primary) for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. (bit.ly/xhg7ob)Government transparency includes knowing where elected officials make their money, whether they're meeting their tax obligations and to whom they have financial ties. Those all help illuminate whether they're good citizens; let voters see who's beholden to whom; and allow for detecting real or potential conflicts of interest.From the public's perspective, the more we know, the better.From the individual's perspective, understandably, not so much.Is it anyone's business, exactly, how an officeholder who is a noncustodial parent lists a child for income tax purposes? It might be if that elected representative is trying to change the rules or chiding others for claiming a tax benefit that he or she also is using to advantage. But mostly, tax information about dependents isn't especially germane to the public interest.Is the public entitled to know how much representatives put into their health savings accounts? Whether they took a penalty for early withdrawal from retirement savings? What credits they claimed for buying energy-efficient appliances?Even public officials are entitled to some privacy in their personal lives. And it's not necessarily fair to expect spouses to lay bare their finances when they didn't run for office.But let's say your favorite House member took a credit for child care -- even though she's childless.What if your senator claimed a first-time home buyer credit -- but he's on his third house?What if a holier-than-thou legislator argues that churches, not government, should care for the poor -- but makes only minuscule charitable donations?Worse yet, what if a candidate's itemized deductions show a lofty total of unreimbursed business expenses that just couldn't be but didn't set off any IRS alarms? Surely we ought to be apprised when someone who's asking for a position of power and a salary from the public treasury appears to be a tax scofflaw.Privacy and disclosure both have their place, and they're sometimes going to clash. Just because legislators aren't required to show us their tax returns doesn't mean they shouldn't. And if they'd make the disclosure forms they are required to release more detailed and meaningful, maybe they wouldn't get hounded for more.