Clintons Made $10.6 Million in 2015, Paid Tax of $3.6 Million

Updated on
  • Democratic nominee’s staff jabs Trump on releasing his returns
  • Couple donated 9.8% of adjusted gross income, campaign says

Clintons Earned $10.6 Million Adjusted Gross Income

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, earned adjusted gross income of $10.6 million in 2015 and paid $3.6 million in federal income taxes, according to a tax return her campaign released Friday as it sought to draw a contrast with her Republican rival, Donald Trump.

Their income would place the Clintons well within the top 0.1 percent of earners, based on data for the 2015 tax year, said Emmanuel Saez, an economist who specializes in income inequality.

The couple paid an effective tax rate of 34.2 percent in 2015 and donated 9.8 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity -- including a $1 million gift to the Clinton Family Foundation -- according to the return. The family foundation, which is separate from the better-known Clinton Foundation, listed Hillary and Bill Clinton as its only donors on its 2014 tax filing.

Friday’s release adds to eight years of returns that Hillary Clinton’s campaign made public last year. “All told, the Clintons have made their tax returns public for every year dating back to 1977,” according to a campaign news release.

Trump’s Audit

In releasing the return -- along with 10 years of tax information for her running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine -- Clinton’s campaign once again tried to create a contrast between her and Trump over transparency in their personal finances.

Departing from 40 years of tradition for presidential candidates, Trump has so far refused to release any of his tax returns for public inspection. Trump has said that he’s under an audit by the Internal Revenue Service and won’t release his returns until that audit is concluded -- which may not happen before the Nov. 8 election. IRS officials have said there’s no law preventing taxpayers from releasing their returns to the public, even if they’re under audit.

Scott Michel, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, said releasing returns that are under audit would expose them to additional scrutiny -- perhaps revealing “problems the IRS hasn’t found yet.” Nonetheless, he said, Trump could still disclose how much tax he has paid, how much he has given to charity and other details.

‘Nobody Wants’

“If he doesn’t want people to know that, it can’t possibly be because he’s under audit -- the IRS knows the answers to those questions already, of course, because they have the returns,” he said.

A Trump campaign spokesman said Friday that Hillary Clinton’s tax return represents “the only records nobody wants to see from her” and called them “an attempt at distraction and misdirection.” Spokesman Jason Miller listed a litany of other information Clinton should release. They included records related to her use of private e-mail while secretary of state. He also called for her to release transcripts of speeches she was paid to give to Wall Street banks after she left her government post.

Clintons’ Income

The Clintons’ eight-figure income, which included almost $6 million from speaking fees and consulting fees for Bill Clinton and more than $4 million in speaking fees and income from book sales for Hillary Clinton, may complicate her attempts to appeal to lower- and middle-income voters.

In 2015, the average income for people in the top 0.1 percent of earners was $6.7 million, said Saez, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. The Clinton’s $10.6 million in income actually puts them near the threshold for the top 0.01 percent of taxpayers, which Saez said was $11.3 million in 2015.

The Clintons’ prior tax returns showed that from 2007 through 2014, the couple made $139.1 million -- much of it from paid speeches. The Clintons paid $43.9 million in federal taxes over those years -- an average tax rate that works out to 31.6 percent.

Their annual income was down from 2014, when the couple reported $27.9 million in income, their highest total. That year, the Clintons paid $10.6 million in taxes, at an effective rate of 35.7 percent.

Tax Overpayment

In 2015, their return shows, they overpaid their federal taxes by more than $1 million and asked that the excess be applied to their 2016 tax bill. Hogan Lovells US LLP, a global law firm in New York with a tax practice, prepared and signed the return.

Tax accountants who reviewed the filing Friday said it was largely unremarkable.

“I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, considering the profession they’re in,” said Brian Stoner, a certified public accountant in Burbank, California. “The book deals, the $1 million to the foundation, they all seem pretty much in line.”

Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, paid an effective federal tax rate of 20.3 percent in 2015 on $313,441 in adjusted gross income, according to a copy of their return for the year. Over the past 10 years, the couple have donated 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity, according to the campaign’s news release.