Gillibrand releases latest tax returns, calls on other 2020 contenders to follow

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday became the first presidential hopeful of the 2020 cycle to release her 2018 tax return, holding up the disclosure as a sign to other candidates to follow suit.

Gillibrand and her husband brought in roughly $215,000 last year, according to her tax return. That includes $167,634 from her Senate salary and $50,000 from a book deal that the senator reported as business income.


She paid $29,170 in federal taxes, putting her effective tax rate at 13.6 percent, the documents show.

In a video posted along with her latest tax return, Gillibrand touted the release as a show of transparency and called on other 2018 presidential contenders to do the same.

“I want voters to know that I’m beholden to no one, that my values are not for sale and that I’m working only for you,” Gillibrand said. “We can’t fundamentally change Washington unless we can show the American people we are brave enough to do what needs to be done.”

“Join me in calling on every presidential candidate to disclose their taxes,” she added.

The release of her 2018 tax return wasn’t unusual for Gillibrand, who has made her returns public every year since 2012. Those returns go back through 2007.

But her latest return is notable because it offers the first glimpse into how the Republican-led tax reforms passed in 2017 have affected a presidential contender.

Gillibrand’s income fell by about $39,000 between 2017 and 2018, but so did her tax rate. When calculating her effective tax rates based on tax as a share of adjusted gross income, instead of as a share of total income, Gillibrand's effective tax rate was 22.6 percent in 2017 and 13.6 percent in 2018.

She and her husband also took the standard deduction, which was significantly increased under the GOP tax plan, in 2018. The year before, Gillibrand itemized her deductions.

Kyle Pomerleau, a tax policy expert at the Tax Foundation, which has generally been supportive of the GOP tax law, pointed out that Gillibrand and her husband appeared to get a tax break because of the law’s reduction in the number of people subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and its deduction for income from noncorporate businesses.

The senator and her husband were, however, affected by the measure’s cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, though in 2017 they were subject to the AMT, which disallows SALT deductions. The couple were not subject to the AMT in 2018.

While Gillibrand is the first 2020 contender to release their 2018 tax return, another Democratic hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAmerica can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Misguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon MORE (D-Mass.), has made her tax returns for the past 10 years public. Others in the Democratic field have yet to release any recent tax returns.

The deadline for filing 2018 taxes is April 15, meaning that some candidates may not have completed their taxes yet. Any candidate that files an extension on their 2018 taxes would have until Oct. 15 to file.

Some candidates have made parts of their finances public through congressional financial disclosure forms, but those documents don’t offer as detailed of a glimpse into their personal finances.

The issue of presidential candidates’ taxes has emerged as a point of attack for Democrats since 2016, when President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE broke from decades of precedent and declined to make his tax returns public.

Some state legislatures have sought in recent years to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in their states.

In California, for example, lawmakers passed a measure in 2017 that would require candidates to do so, though that legislation was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

A sweeping elections and ethics bill passed by the House earlier this month would also require presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of their tax returns.

Democratic lawmakers in the Senate are expected to unveil their version of the measure on Wednesday.

--This report was updated at 1:05 p.m.