After Criticism, Sanders Releases Full 2014 Tax Return

Apr 18, 2016
Originally published on April 18, 2016 12:26 pm

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders finally released his full 2014 tax returns Friday evening, following pressure from his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination and a wave of media criticism.

The basics haven’t changed since VPR reported on the partial tax returns last July: In 2014, the bulk of the Sanders’ $205,617 in income came from the senator’s $156,441 public salary. The senator and his wife, Jane, paid $27,653 in federal taxes, for an effective federal tax rate of about 20 percent on their taxable income of $140,994.

The Sanders took in another $39,281 from Social Security benefits; $4,982 from the senator’s Burlington mayoral pension; and $4,900 from Jane Sanders’ governor-appointed spot on a low-level radioactive waste commission.

What Friday’s release does reveal are more details on the $56,377 in itemized deductions the Sanders claimed. They deducted $9,666 in Vermont income taxes, $14,843 in real estate taxes, and $22,946 in home mortgage interest.

Last summer, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs did reveal that the couple deducted $8,350 for charity donations, but back then, he declined to name the charities, or detail other deductions that became public Friday.

“I don’t want to get anybody very excited. They are very boring tax returns,” Sanders said in a Democratic debate hosted by CNN Thursday night. “No big money from speeches, no major investments. Unfortunately, I remain one of the poorer members of the United States Senate, and that’s what that will show.”

Sanders, who routinely rails against the rich and vows to break up big banks, has one of the lowest net worths of any U.S. Senator in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

By contrast, Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, claimed more than $28 million in income in 2014, according to full tax returns previously released by the Clinton campaign. That includes millions of dollars in speaking and book fees.

The couple had $22.8 million in taxable income, and paid nearly $10 million in taxes, for an effective federal tax rate of nearly 44 percent.

The Clintons also claimed nearly $5.2 million in itemized deductions.

Sanders has yet to release his full 2015 tax returns, or returns from earlier years, but they’re forthcoming, he said Thursday night.

“What we have always done in my family, is Jane does them,” he said Thursday. “And she’s been out on the campaign trail. We will get ‘em out. Well get them out very shortly. It’s not a big deal.”

Michael Briggs, a Sanders campaign spokesman, has told VPR the 2015 returns will be released after they’re filed. The filing deadline is Monday.

Recently, Sanders has been taking lumps in the press for failing to go public with copies of his full tax returns. Presidential candidates aren’t required to release their tax returns, but as a matter of transparency, most have made them public.

Sanders has faced increased scrutiny since a CNN interview earlier this month, when he told host Jake Tapper that he has released his full tax returns in years past. Jane Sanders later reiterated that claim in an interview with Bloomberg Politics.

That set off a round of fact-checking by reporters and political watchdog groups. The Washington Post, along with the websites FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, all found Sanders’ claim to be false.

Clarification 4/16/16 10:25 a.m. This story was updated to include the Sanders' taxable income, which was used to calculate their effective tax rate.

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