Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, earned $10.7 million last year according to their 2015 tax return, which her campaign released Friday along with a trove of other documents intended to apply pressure to Republican Donald Trump to do the same.
Clinton has called on Trump repeatedly to release his tax returns, trying to sow doubt about the businessman’s honesty and civic participation. With the release of her return as well as an accounting of nearly $23 million in speaking fees earned in 2013, the Clinton campaign noted that nearly 40 years’ worth of tax returns for the couple are now in the public domain.
Among other benefits, the tax issue allows Clinton to cast herself as forthcoming and honest, two attributes that many voters say they find lacking in her.
But Clinton’s disclosure brings her some unwanted attention too, notably to her and her husband’s extraordinary income, derived primarily through speaking fees from Wall Street companies and other businesses.
Although the speaking fees were previously reported in tax returns filed for 2013 and 2014 and released more than a year ago, the campaign made a point Friday of compiling them into online lists broken out by the name of the company or organization she addressed.
The disclosures are sure to irk liberal voters for whom Clinton’s ties to powerful corporate and banking interests are cause for suspicion — and they will bring fresh attention to the fact that Clinton’s wealth dwarfs that of the working families whose interests she is promising to champion, as recently as in a speech in the Detroit area on Thursday, when she accused Trump of being interested in helping “only millionaires like himself.”
At the same time, the lists also give Clinton a peg for her argument that, unlike Trump, she has nothing to hide.
The Clinton campaign also released 10 years’ worth of returns for her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, and his wife, Anne Holton.
“Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine continue to set the standard for financial transparency as she releases her 2015 personal tax return,” campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri said Friday.
“In stark contrast, Donald Trump is hiding behind fake excuses and backtracking on his previous promises to release his tax returns. He has failed to provide the public with the most basic financial information disclosed by every major candidate in the last 40 years. What is he trying to hide?”
Trump has said he cannot release his returns because of an ongoing audit.
A Washington Post-ABC poll in May found that 64 percent of Americans said Trump should release his taxes, including 54 percent who felt “strongly” that he should do so.
More than four in 10 Republicans said Trump should do so, as did nearly six in 10 independents.
Both Clintons listed their occupation as “speaking and writing.” Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign in April of 2015, but while elected officials list their occupation as such, there is no separate category for political candidates.
The Clintons reported total income of $10.7 million last year, and adjusted gross income of $10.5 million. They paid $3.6 million in federal income taxes.
One reality of the Clintons’ extraordinary wealth illustrated in the new disclosures is the fact that they would qualify for as much as $1.5 million in tax savings under the “Trump Loophole” that Clinton derided this week — part of Trump’s tax proposal that Clinton said was designed to benefit only the very wealthy, including Trump.
Trump’s proposal would tax so-called “pass-through entities,” such as limited liability companies, at a flat rate of 15 percent. Currently, profits from those entities are taxed as individual income for the owners of those companies, up to a top rate of 39.6 percent. This matters for Trump, because some 200 of the companies in his business empire are pass-throughs, which led to Clinton’s criticism of the plan.
But the plan would also greatly benefit Bill and Hillary Clinton, because they earned almost all of their money through pass-throughs in 2015, their returns show. The Clintons earn their speech, book-writing and consulting fees entirely through pass-throughs. They reported $10,168,272 in income from pass-throughs, compared to only $100 in wages and $577,000 from other sources.
Taxed at 39.6 percent, and after factoring out deductions, the Clintons appear to have paid more than $3 million in federal income tax on their pass-through income in 2015. If Trump’s plan had been in effect, and that income had been taxed at 15 percent (with no deductions), the Clintons’ tax bill would have fallen to $1.5 million.
The Clintons’ return showed that they overpaid their federal taxes by slightly over $1 million last year, because they had overestimated how much they should pay in quarterly installments throughout the year. That method of payment is often required for wealthy people. The Clintons opted to apply the overage to their estimated taxes for 2016.
The Clintons paid an effective federal income tax rate of 34.2 percent in 2015, according to the campaign. They paid an effective state and local income tax rate of 9 percent, meaning their combined effective rate was more than 40 percent.
In addition, the Clintons donated 9.8 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity, the campaign reported.
Friday’s release adds to a prior disclosure of tax returns spanning the years 1992 to 2014, released during the years when Bill Clinton was president and when Hillary Clinton ran for president the first time, in 2008. And it
Clinton’s campaign also released a list of speeches that she delivered in 2013, which showed that she gave 41 addresses for fees ranging from $225,000 to $400,000. All told, she earned roughly $9.7 million that year in speaking fees, according to the campaign.
Bill Clinton, meanwhile, earned roughly $13.2 million in speaking fees that same year. He delivered 43 speeches, for which he was paid fees ranging from $100,000 to $750,000.
In May, financial disclosure forms revealed that the Clintons earned more than $25 million for delivering 104 speeches since the beginning of 2014, a huge infusion to their net worth as she was readying for a presidential bid.
During the decade or so that Clinton served as a U.S. senator and then secretary of state, Clinton reported that her husband made $105 million for delivering more than 540 speeches. Bill Clinton’s fees rose over time. In 2012, her last year at the State Department, he earned more than $16.3 million for 72 speeches.
According to the May disclosure, Hillary Clinton delivered 51 speeches in 2014 and the first three months of 2015, earning more than $11 million. Her fees varied, but she earned as much as $315,000 for speaking to eBay in San Jose on March 11; she also collected $325,000 for speaking to the technology company Cisco in Las Vegas in August.
Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton released 10 years of returns, showing they had an effective federal tax rate ranging between 13.4 percent and 24 percent over that span.
In 2015, Kaine and Holton reported $313,441 in total income, the vast majority of that coming from their respective salaries, Kaine as a U.S. senator and Holton as Virginia’s secretary of education.
Over the 10-year span, the two reported total annual income ranging between $156,967 and $314,398. During each of the 10 years, they gave a minimum of $11,209 to charity, with the amount exceeding $20,000 in four of those years.