By Ken Thomas and Richard Rubin
WASHINGTON -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released a decade's worth of his tax returns on Monday, showing an annual income that exceeded $1 million in 2016 and 2017 following his first presidential campaign.
His tax records show that the senator and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, reported adjusted gross income of more than $1.1 million in 2017 and more than $1 million in 2016, helped by the proceeds of his 2016 book, "Our Revolution," which chronicled his presidential primary bid against Hillary Clinton. They paid total federal taxes in 2018 of $145,840 on $561,293 in adjusted gross income, an effective tax rate of 26%.
Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has often criticized what he calls the "billionaire class," proposed tax increases and said wealthy Americans have benefited unfairly from economic policies at the expense of the working class.
He said in a statement Monday that the tax returns "show that our family has been fortunate," adding that he considered paying more in taxes in recent years "both an obligation and an investment in our country."
"I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people," he said.
His campaign said the couple's income increased in 2016 due to advances and royalties from "Our Revolution," which it said had been translated into five languages.
The tax records also reflected proceeds from a youth version of "Our Revolution," along with the publication of "Where We Go From Here," and an advance on a book currently being written by Ms. Sanders.
More recently, Mr. Sanders earned $391,000 in book royalties from his 2018 book, "Where We Go From Here."
Mr. Sanders was joined by former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas in releasing 10 years of tax returns Monday, bringing to seven the number of 2020 presidential candidates to make personal tax returns public. Democrats have released years of their tax documents during the primary, seeking to promote transparency and highlight President Trump's unwillingness to release his returns.
During his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump said he would release his tax returns but has refused to do so, breaking a 40-year tradition of voluntary disclosure for major-party nominees.
Mr. O'Rourke and his wife, Amy, released tax returns covering 2008 through 2017. They said the 2018 return will be released as soon as possible after it is filed.
In 2017, the couple's adjusted gross income was $366,455, a little less than half of which came from wages and the rest from business income and investments. They paid $81,019 in taxes for a tax rate of 22.1%.
Over the decade, the couple had income exceeding $300,000 in all but two years. They routinely deduct investment interest and fees, and their investments make their tax returns much more complex than a typical wage earner's.
From 2014 through 2017, Mr. O'Rourke and his wife donated a total of less than $5,000 to charities.
California Sen. Kamala Harris released 15 years' worth of tax returns on Sunday. She followed Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, along with Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, who have posted at least a decade of their tax returns online.
Other candidates are expected to soon follow suit, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Mr. Trump, whose tax returns are being sought by House Democrats under a longtime law, has cited a continuing audit by the Internal Revenue Service as a reason not to release his tax returns. There is nothing, however, that would bar Mr. Trump from voluntarily releasing his tax returns even if he is under audit.
House Democrats have set an April 23 deadline for the IRS to turn over Mr. Trump's tax returns. Under the tax code, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can request any taxpayer's returns and the Treasury Department "shall furnish" them. The dispute could wind up in court if the Trump administration asserts that Congress doesn't have a legitimate legislative purpose for the request.
Mr. Sanders said in March at a campaign rally in Brooklyn that, having been raised in a lower-middle-class family not far from where he spoke, he would "never forget how money -- or really lack of money -- was always a point of stress in our home."
Mr. Sanders's tax documents released Monday show that he and his spouse paid total federal taxes of $343,882 in 2017 for an effective tax rate of 30.3% and $372,368 in 2016 for an effective tax rate of 35%.
The senator's tax returns, covering 2009 to 2018, show an income that fluctuated between more than $200,000 a year to more than $300,000 annually before his presidential campaign.
The couple reported an adjusted gross income of more than $300,000 in 2009-2011 but their income dipped in the following three years.
Ms. Sanders received a $200,000 severance package after resigning from Burlington College in the fall of 2011, according to a 2012 audit of the school's finances. She had served as the small liberal arts school's president since 2004.
As president, she had secured loans to purchase a $10 million lakefront property for the school. But the school's fundraising and enrollment never matched Ms. Sanders's projections, according to two former Burlington College trustees who said the board asked Ms. Sanders to resign. The 44-year-old school collapsed under the weight of its debt, eventually closing in May 2016.
Ms. Sanders declined in a recent interview to discuss her tenure at Burlington College.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Mr. Sanders benefited from the 2017 tax cut that he voted against because the couple's income went up and down so much from year to year. Mr. Sanders's 2018 return said it is self-prepared, as opposed to being prepared by an accountant.
In 2017, they reported having a financial interest in a foreign bank account and then filed an amended return saying they didn't. (They said they had inadvertently checked yes.)
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Write to Ken Thomas at email@example.com and Richard Rubin at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 15, 2019 20:19 ET (00:19 GMT)
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