State Sen. Daniel Biss, a Democratic candidate for governor who is pushing legislation requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to be on the Illinois ballot, released five years of federal tax returns Thursday evening.
The returns show that in two of the years, including last year, Biss did not owe federal taxes.
For 2016, Biss reported $32,568 in adjusted gross income and, after deductions and exemptions, a taxable income of $2,958. The returns show he owed no federal tax. In 2013, the Evanston state senator reported $54,218 in adjusted gross income and $18,116 in taxable income, owing no federal tax.
Biss and his wife, Karin Steinbrueck, paid federal taxes of $581 in 2012, $629 in 2014 and $2,775 in 2015. Among the largest deductions he took were ones for local property taxes, state income taxes and home mortgage interest.
A campaign spokesman said Biss reported less salary than usual for last year because lawmakers’ paychecks were delayed during the ongoing Illinois state budget impasse.
Pritzker, Kennedy and Pawar all say they will release their tax returns. Gov. Rauner has released his returns every year. Rauner’s last return, for 2015, showed he had tripled his annual income. Biss, on the other hand, lost half of his income last year because of that “no budget, no pay” stunt.
* From the Biss campaign…
My fellow Democrats,
As you know, Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns for public scrutiny. The practice of candidates and executives releasing their returns isn’t simply a time honored tradition, but a necessary check to ensure elected officials don’t allow their responsibilities to the public to be compromised by potential personal gain.
Serious and consequential questions have been raised about Mr. Trump’s finances and potential conflicts of interest. And voters deserve answers to these questions.
Indeed, voters have the right to be confident that their elected officials are doing things for the right reasons, and that they are putting the interest of the people first. In short, they need to have trust in their elected officials — something that is in short supply today.
That’s why I introduced SB 982 in the Illinois legislature, which would require any candidate for President requesting the vote of Illinois citizens to afford them the respect of releasing their tax returns. We’ve seen the value of releasing tax returns in our state recently: when Governor Rauner released his returns, the public was made aware of potential conflicts of interest between Rauner family holdings and the allocation of public funds.
In a state that has been controlled by money and the machine for so long, the transparency provided in releasing tax returns is an important signal to voters that elected officials in Springfield are ready to be held accountable to the people, and only the people.
Accordingly, today, my wife and I are releasing our tax returns for the last five years. We also pledge to release next year’s returns before the primary election, and we are calling on all other Democratic candidates for governor to do the same. If we are calling upon President Trump and Governor Rauner to do so, Illinois voters should expect nothing less from any Democratic candidate for governor.
Transparency of this kind is not a new idea in our state. In his own campaign for governor in 1971, Paul Simon volunteered his sources of income saying that without disclosure, “all of us who hold office will continue to suffer in the eyes of the public.”
Senator Simon added personal financial transparency is “the only way to meet the complex problem of conflict of interest. Put matters on the table in public view and then the citizenry can make reasoned judgments, whether we are serving ourselves, or serving the public.”
I agree. All Democrats should.
Let’s hold this field of progressives to a standard that Paul Simon would be proud of. Together, we can send voters a message that we are serious about getting the levers of power out the hands of the well connected, restoring trust in government, and putting our state on a new course.
* Click on the dates to see the Biss returns: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.