Written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg
Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose $18 million fundraising haul has solidified his status as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that he would release 10 years of tax returns by Tax Day on Monday and acknowledged that he has joined the ranks of the millionaires he has denounced for years.
“April 15 is coming,” Sanders, whose refusal to release his full past returns has become an issue in the campaign, said in an interview in his office. “We wanted to release 10 years of tax returns. April 15, 2019, will be the 10th year, so I think you will see them.”
Told that he was being compared to President Donald Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, Sanders got more specific: “On the day in the very immediate future, certainly before April 15, we release ours, I hope that Donald Trump will do exactly the same. We are going to release 10 years of our tax returns, and we hope that on that day Donald Trump will do the same.”
Sanders’ refusal to release his full tax returns was a relatively minor issue in the 2016 Democratic primaries, when Hillary Clinton goaded him to be more transparent. But Trump’s refusal to release his — and the subsequent effort by House Democrats to force the release — have raised the issue’s profile. Sanders has bristled at comparisons between his behavior and the president’s.
“Not being a billionaire, not having investments in Saudi Arabia, wherever he has investments, all over the world, mine will be a little bit more boring,” Sanders said.
Reminded that he is a millionaire, he did not shirk from the description.
“I wrote a best-selling book,” he declared. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”
A number of Sanders’ rivals for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, have already released their 2018 tax returns. Gillibrand has made 12 years of her returns public. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released 10 years of her returns last year.
Sanders, a Vermont independent, has repeatedly promised to do the same but has been evasive about his timing, prompting some speculation that he does not want voters to know what is in them. He has said he and his wife, Jane, who serves as an adviser to his presidential campaign, prepare the returns themselves, without an accountant.
In 2014, they released returns showing $205,617 in income, including $156,441 in wages and salary and $46,213 from Social Security benefits. A summary statement of their 2016 returns was much the same, with most of their income coming from Sanders’ $174,000 Senate salary. But that was criticized as not a full disclosure.
Sanders — whose trademark on the campaign trail is his attacks on the “millionaires” and the “billionaires” — consistently ranked among the least wealthy members of the Senate.
But since his 2016 run for the presidency, Sanders’ financial fortunes have improved. His 2017 Senate financial disclosure forms show he earned roughly $1.06 million that year, more than $885,000 from book royalties. His most recent book, “Where We Go From Here,” was published last year.