Bernie Sanders released his tax returns. Then he went on Fox News to defend taxing the wealthy.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released 10 years of personal tax returns Monday, showing that he is in fact a millionaire.
He still supports a wealth tax.
In 2018, Sanders’s income was $561,293, on which he paid a 26 percent effective tax rate on that adjusted gross income. In 2017 and 2016, his income was more than a million — $1.15 million and roughly $1.1 million respectively — because of the advance and royalties from his bestselling book about the 2016 election. Sanders and his wife Jane Sanders paid $145,840 in taxes last year; $343,882 in 2017; and $372,368 in 2016.
They also donated 3.4 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity last year. But the campaign was also sure to note that they also gave the proceeds from Sanders’s book, The Speech, directly to charity, and that they did not take the tax deduction for those contributions, which is why they don’t show up in the tax returns.
Sanders’s tax returns have figured in something of a drama for several months. In the 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton Sanders only released his 2014 tax returns, ultimately conceding the race before releasing any more. The Vermont senator has been dogged with questions about when he would release a more comprehensive look at his finances this cycle. And the fact that Sanders, a man most famous for decrying the greed of “millionaires and billionaires,” is himself millionaire has raised eyebrows.
That said, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist hasn’t changed his policy around taxing the wealthy. Sanders, asked about his millionaire status during a Fox News town hall Monday night, again reasserted that he des not support Republicans’ latest tax cuts — despite personally having benefitted from them.
“We have an absurd tax system, and while millions of people today are paying actually more in taxes than anticipated, Amazon, Netflix, and dozens of major corporations, as a result of Trump’s tax bill, paid nothing in federal taxes,” Sanders said. “I think that’s a disgrace.”
Sanders has repeatedly called for taxing corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
Under Sanders’s plan — the “For the 99.8% Act” — the top estate tax rate would be brought up to 77 percent on wealth over $1 billion. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews explained, Sanders’s proposal establishes the same top rate that existed from 1941 to 1976, and is higher than the 65 percent top rate he proposed in the 2016 race. It would create a multi-tiered structure for taxing estates, taxing the richest Americans and break up the large fortunes held by only a few Americans. Currently, the estate tax is much lower than the top marginal income tax rate.
“I happen to believe that a tax bill written and pushed by Trump, who told the American people that that tax bill, some of you may recall, would not benefit the wealthy — 83 percent of the benefits went to the top 1 percent — I think that’s a bad idea and in my view,” Sanders said on Fox News. “I think wealthy people and large corporations that are making billions of profits should start paying their fair share of taxes.”
Politicians’ tax returns have become particularly important in the age of President Donald Trump, who has famously avoided releasing his tax returns — to the point that House Democrats are currently in the throes of legally mandating him to do so. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have all released theirs as well.