Beto O’Rourke reported income topping $370K in 2017 tax return

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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke released a decade’s worth of tax returns showing that in 2017, he and his wife Amy made $370,412 from his salary, investments and other income.

O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and one of the 18 candidates seeking the chance to run against President Donald Trump in 2020, paid $81,019 in taxes on $288,786 in taxable income, paying an effective tax rate of 28 percent. The taxable income factors in the credits, deductions and exemptions the O’Rourkes could claim, including tax breaks for their three children and deductions for investment fees.

The couple reported nearly $68,000 in interest and dividend income in 2017, in addition to his salary as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The couple also earned $53,364 from the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development, a group that promotes charter schools in El Paso, Texas, where Amy O’Rourke works and is on the board of directors. O’Rourke represented El Paso, a city on the Mexican border, in Congress.

The couple also reported nearly $14,000 in income from Charlotte’s Inc., a furniture store owned by Melissa O’Rourke, Beto’s mother. Melissa pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges of accepting payments of nearly $631,000 from a customer and altering the receipts to avoid IRS disclosure law. She agreed to pay $250,000 in fines in the plea deal.

O’Rourke and his wife gave $1,166 to charity in 2017, including $1,000 to Annunciation House in El Paso, which assists the poor and migrants. They gave $857 to charity in 2016, including $538 to Annunciation House. The latest year in which they gave more than $10,000 was in 2013, when they gave $12,900.

The returns show that they mistakenly took a medical expense deduction in 2013 and 2014, claiming about $15,700 in write-offs that weren’t allowed. The law changed in 2013 regarding the age and income requirements to qualify for the tax break.

O’Rourke joined Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in releasing 10 years of tax returns on Monday. Senate colleagues Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have also released their tax returns since 2008.

The release of tax documents has taken on added importance for the Democratic candidates who are drawing a contrast with Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns despite longstanding practice.

O’Rourke, 46, is running with an appeal to progressive voters while steering clear of the most left-wing ideas gaining popularity in the party. He has faced criticism about his lack of policy specifics in contrast to some of his rivals.

He has said, for example, that Americans should have "the choice" of Medicare, but didn’t go so far as to propose "Medicare for all," as have Sanders and Harris. O’Rourke has said he supports a wealth tax, an annual tax on the richest households, but hasn’t released a specific plan on the idea.

O’Rourke’s campaign also said he would release his 2018 tax returns after they are filed. The deadline was Monday, but taxpayers can automatically get a six-month extension from the IRS if they are unable to submit their paperwork by then.

“This follows his commitment to increasing accountability and transparency while in the House of Representatives when he held monthly public town halls back in his district where any person could ask any question,” according to the statement.

Most early polls show O’Rourke bunched up with Harris and Warren. Those three are behind Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, who hasn’t declared a candidacy, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

— With assistance from Sahil Kapur

Bloomberg News
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