Presidential Candidates' Tax Returns

What Is Trump Hiding?

Presidential Candidates' Tax Returns
June 2, 2016

Your tax returns are private information, whether you are just an average Tom, Dick, or Harry, or Harry Truman, President of the United States. For many years now, most presidents have chosen to make their tax returns public in some form as a means of establishing trust with the American people. In more recent times, presidential candidates have been doing the same thing to garner support in either a primary season or the general election. What do these candidates reveal?

Hillary Clinton

Most of us struggle with one Schedule C for profit or loss from business. Imagine having six on one tax submission. Each of the Clintons had three Schedule C's to contribute during 2014. Hillary had one as an author and two more as a speaker and author through ZFS Holdings, Inc. Bill had one as a speaker, one as an author, and another as a consultant.

These businesses contributed $28,020,811 of the Clintons' $28,336,212 income for 2014, for which they paid $9,981,350 in taxes. It's a good thing they have these ventures, because their collective salary was a paltry $93, earned from GEP (Global Entertainment Partners) Talent Services, LLC. Maybe Bill got a residual from playing sax on Arsenio Hall?

Bernie Sanders

Sanders' 2014 tax return shows a family income of just over $205,000, with 19% of that income as Sanders' Social Security benefits. Not only that, he prepared his own taxes that year. (Somehow, that seems fitting.) That's less than 1/100 of the Clinton's income. With a salary of $156,441, it looks as if he'd get a raise if he wins the White House!

Bernie also had one of the largest amounts of itemized deductions relative to income of all the candidates. $56,377 in deductions resulted in an overall tax bill of $27,653 and an effective tax rate on adjusted gross income of 13.5%. The vast majority of the deductions were for real estate taxes and home mortgage interest/points.

Ted Cruz

We cannot tell much about Cruz's 2014 taxes because he only released the 1040 Form and not the corresponding Schedules and other forms needed to review details. Cruz's 1040 shows a family income of $1,210,382 and $442,701 in corresponding taxes. We can, however, note that he made a payment with a request for an extension to file, with an estimated tax penalty for $2.038. There's nothing terribly unusual about that — several candidates have had similar issues — but disclosing the entire form as Clinton and Sanders have done helps to clarify the situation and prevent baseless rumors.

Carly Fiorina

Fiorina's 2013 return with her husband Frank shows a collective income of $1,973,808 with only $45,844 of that in salary — $25,931 from AT&T and $19,913 from Fidelity Investments. Capital gains, taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and business income all ranged from between $400,000 and $600,000, but the Fiorina's racked up $209,300 in passive losses from multiple partnerships and S corporations. Total taxes paid were $429,005.

John Kasich

Kasich pulled in over $402,000 as the Governor of Ohio in 2014, including $129,093 in salary, $143,061 in capital gains, and $101,727 in ordinary dividends. Kasich claimed $74,271 in itemized deductions – but with only the 1040 Form disclosed, we cannot see the nature of the exemptions. They did help to drop his total taxes paid to $74,543.

Newt Gingrich

The former House Speaker and Presidential candidate's 2010 return was quite complex – complex enough to require $8,505 in tax preparation fees (deductible, of course). The Gingrich family collected $450,245 in salaries, with the vast majority coming from Gingrich Holdings, Inc. and Gingrich Productions, Inc. Collective income was $3,162,424 while total taxes were $994,708. Surprisingly for a former Speaker of the House, Presidential candidate, and commentator, Gingrich only earned $21,625 in speaking fees that year.

Sarah Palin

The 2007 return of the Vice-Presidential nominee listed $151,556 in salary, with $107,987 of that being Sarah's. Her husband Todd incurred $9,639 in losses on "Snow Machine Racing." $17,000 in income was offset by $26,639 in expenses, including $10,858 in Depreciation Expenses, $2,960 in "Snow Machine Fuel" and $1,830 in "Entry Fees." At least Todd did pull in $15,513 in profit on a side fishing business. The Palins' total tax bill was $24,738.

If you want to see more, check out The Tax History Project, which has collected many of these returns and provided a page of links. Notice any absences? Donald Trump so far has refused to release his returns, saying he is under an IRS audit and will not do so until the audit is complete. The IRS confirms that there is no legal reason that anyone under an audit couldn't release tax returns, and there is even a Presidential precedent for doing so. Richard Nixon released his returns in 1973 after his famous "I am not a crook" statement regarding Watergate.

Ultimately, it did not end well for Nixon as errors were found in his taxes from 1969-1972 totaling over $476,000 (in 1973 dollars) according to the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation. The IRS came to a slightly different total of $432,787, which Nixon promptly paid.

Of course, the Presidency did not end well for Nixon in many ways. Trump is surely aware of this. Like Nixon before him, Trump will likely release his tax returns if and only if he decides that it is in his best interest to do so. He did say, "I have big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful…." There may be nothing in the Donald's tax returns worth hiding, but one thing is likely: if something is hidden there, it's probably HUUUUUUUUGE.

Photos by Joe Raedle/Getty Images, BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

  Conversation   |   13 Comments

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Nancy | 06.02.16 @ 23:04
All of these numbers are staggering. You have to wonder why Mr. Trump does not want to release his info.
Carla | 06.02.16 @ 23:05
I think it should be mandatory that all tax returns are made public if you are in high public offices along with birth certificates. There should be nothing to hide.
Steffanie | 06.02.16 @ 23:11
Wow, that's a lot of money. Personally, if you are in a public office, then your records should be public. It's the price you pay when being elected, in my opinion anyway.
gracie | 06.02.16 @ 23:12
There is so much information that bothers me about both of the candidates not just their troubling taxes! Yet we keep going merrily along. Ugg. I believe that taxes of all those who hold government office should be made public.
Elaine | 06.02.16 @ 23:20
That is a lot but I always figured it would be for politicians. I could see why they want to keep it private.
Vebinista | 06.02.16 @ 23:21
It would be nice if he released them. It would be nice if candidates released their college records too, still waiting in those ones from the current occupant of the White House. You want to run the country we should see ALL your credentials to do so, so we can fact check them for ourselves.
Brittany | 06.02.16 @ 23:26
It has always amused me that Trump still doesn't want to release those numbers.... it's almost like he's trying to hide something
Kailie | 06.02.16 @ 23:28
That is a whole lot of money! However, it doesn't really surprise me.
Kyle | 06.02.16 @ 23:31
Some of these numbers are completely crazy and huge! It doesn't surprise me, considering that they are politicians, but wow!
Leah | 06.02.16 @ 23:46
Im not surprised trump refuses to release his. Just look at his platforms and comments. If you are going to be the leader of the united states you shouldnt be able to hide anything.
Jo Ann | 06.02.16 @ 23:49
Every Legitimate candidate has shown their taxes even if they didn't want to. So for Trump not to is a basis for doubt as an honest person. He has something huge to hide and that is why he refuses to disclose.
Victor colon | 06.03.16 @ 00:56
No wonder this peop[e do not want this numbers to be posted, with those ammounts i would not like it either!!
Andy | 11.02.16 @ 22:20
Yea, we all know now that Trump hasn't payed in any income taxes for the last 15 years, he's nothing more then a tax cheat and a crook.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 11.28.20 @ 11:51