Cindy McCain Reported Income Exceeding $6 Million in 2006

Cindy McCain, the wife of Republican Sen. John McCain
Cindy McCain, the wife of Republican Sen. John McCain (Mary Altaffer - AP)
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By Jonathan Weisman and Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cindy McCain, the wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, reported an income of more than $6 million in 2006, most of it from real estate, trusts and other unearned income from the wealth spun off of her family beer empire, tax returns show.

The McCain campaign released a two-page summary of her 2006 tax return late Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend, just two weeks after Cindy McCain adamantly said she would never release them. Much of the return is missing, especially an itemized look at real estate earnings, royalties, partnerships and trusts.

The summary does not give an overall picture of Cindy McCain's net worth, but it does offer a glimpse into why McCain has been ranked as the 17th wealthiest member of Congress. The McCains have long maintained separate finances, and his income does not explain the family's outward wealth, with multiple homes and a picturesque Sedona ranch.

Her returns also show just how much the McCain family stands to gain from the Arizona senator's pledge to make permanent President Bush's tax cuts, which he voted against.

"She's pretty rich," said Leonard Burman, a former Treasury official at the Urban Institute, who is the director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. "She would do well under Senator McCain's plan."

According to the summary, Cindy McCain earned $299,418 in wages and salary in 2006, much of which is taxed now at 35 percent but would be taxed at 39.6 percent if the Bush tax cuts lapse as scheduled in 2011.

The bulk of her income -- $4.55 million -- came from trusts, real estate rentals, partnerships and other passive ventures. The campaign did not release her Schedule E, which would have detailed them.

The McCain campaign did not release details of her tax deductions, but they totaled $569,737, a relatively small amount on income topping $6 million. Burman said that indicates a small amount of charitable giving from her personal wealth, since about half that deduction is probably for Arizona's 4.54 percent income tax. The John and Cindy McCain Foundation donated $78,250 in 2007 to nonprofits to which the couple are connected through their children.

She reported household employment tax payments of $24,162, indicating a staff of household help earning nearly $170,000.

For all their appeals to struggling Americans, the top three remaining presidential contenders are wealthy. Obama's income peaked last year at $4.2 million, mostly from profits on his best-selling books. Hillary and Bill Clinton took in $20.4 million last year, much of it from the former president's speaking career.

Cindy McCain had been resolute in keeping her finances private. Earlier this month, she sat down with Ann Curry of NBC's "Today Show" and refused to budge on releasing her tax returns.

"You know, my husband and I have been married 28 years, and we have filed separate tax returns for 28 years. This is a privacy issue. My husband is the candidate," she told Curry.

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