He has spent years railing against the excesses of the wealthiest Americans, but Sen. Bernie Sanders is now among those that can be called a millionaire, according to his federal tax returns.
The independent senator from Vermont, who is leading early polls of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, released a decade's worth of tax returns on Monday that show he has earned seven figures in recent years, largely due to sales of his 2016 book, "Our Revolution."
- Citing "crisis of faith in government," Elizabeth Warren releases tax returns
- Bernie Sanders says he will release his tax returns by April 15
Sanders and his wife, Jane, had an adjusted gross income of $561,293 in 2018, paying a 26 percent effective tax rate. In 2017, Sanders and his wife reported an adjusted gross income of a little more than $1.1 million from book sales. In 2016, the couple reported a little more than $1 million, mostly from sales of the book, which was also translated into five other languages.
Sanders earns $174,000 annually as a U.S. senator. Book sales accounted for $391,000 of his earnings in 2018, according to his most recent tax returns. In 2017, the book generated $855,631 in income, up from $840,485 in 2016.
"These tax returns show that our family has been fortunate," Sanders said in a statement accompanying the tax returns.
He added later that "I consider paying more in taxes as my income rose to be 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."
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders released his 2014 tax returns and said he would release more if he earned the nomination. For months, the Vermont senator has said he would release several years of tax information, but had continued to delay the release, raising questions about whether there was something in his financial history that would upset his supporters.
Asked about the whereabouts of his tax returns in an interview with CBS News last week, Sanders said he would release them by April 15. He joked his supporters might be thrown off by "my trillions of dollars of investment in Saudi Arabia or Russia."
Turning serious, he explained: "I make what a United States senator makes. I wrote two books in recent years. One of them was a bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list. Translated to five or six languages. It did very well. I made money on that book. Second book, I didn't make quite so much money. So that's the kind of where the money came from above and beyond our congressional salaries. Years ago my wife was a president of a college. That's about it."
He promised "no great revelations. Sorry to disappoint you."
Over the weekend, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, released 15 years of tax returns, the most of any Democratic presidential contender. The senator and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, a lawyer, reported an adjusted gross income of about $1.9 million in 2018, substantially more than the $142,000 Harris declared in 2004 when she was the district attorney of San Francisco. They paid just under $700,000 in federal taxes, a tax rate of nearly 37 percent.
Over the past five years, the couple has paid over $2.2 million in federal taxes at an average effective tax rate of about 33 percent. Harris has been filing jointly with her husband since they were married in 2014.
Harris's 15 years of returns surpass the decade's worth of tax information from fellow Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.
But among presidential candidates, Jeb Bush still holds the modern-day record for the size of a total tax release. The former Florida governor released 33 years of tax returns during his failed 2016 presidential bid.
With Congressional Democrats embroiled in a standoff with the White House over the release of President Trump's tax returns, the party's White House hopefuls will likely face pressure from activists to set an example and release their tax information.