Income of Boston mayoral hopefuls varies
Many looking to succeed Menino now earn more than city’s median income
There are no Mitt Romneys in the bunch, no nine-digit personal fortunes, no eye-popping investments. But roughly half of the candidates hoping to succeed Thomas M. Menino as mayor of Boston earn more than double the city’s annual median household income of almost $52,000.
Four of the aspirants would face pay cuts if they move into the fifth-floor office that belongs to the mayor, a job that pays $175,000 a year.
As campaigns clash this summer over affordable housing and the plight of the middle class, tax returns can provide a glimpse of each candidate’s socioeconomic status. The Globe requested 2012 state and federal tax returns for all 15 people running for mayor and found that income varied from roughly $59,000 to $700,000. One candidate gave almost $19,000 to charity; another donated a few hundred dollars, the returns showed.
A Globe analysis of the returns and other financial documents showed that two candidates — Councilor Michael P. Ross and state Representative Martin J. Walsh — earned substantial income from second jobs while they served as elected officials, which is not prohibited. Ross and Walsh are both unmarried and filed 2012 tax returns as individuals, and their total income propelled them into one of the nation’s highest tax brackets.
The highest income belonged to Bill Walczak, who estimated that last year he and his wife earned $700,000, which included severance pay he received after his departure from the top job at Carney Hospital. Walczak said he filed for an extension and has not yet completed his 2012 taxes, but his campaign provided his 2011 return, which showed a family income of about $522,000.
“I was a CEO for 32 years, and I was paid commensurate with my experience and duties as a hospital president,” Walczak said in a statement.
The lowest income, roughly $59,000, was reported by Robert Cappucci, a former School Committee member and retired Boston police officer who collects a pension.
Ten of the 15 candidates provided their tax returns, which the Globe analyzed with the help of Sean Wandrei, a certified public accountant and lecturer at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Globe also reviewed financial disclosure statements from elected officials, government payroll records, and bankruptcy filings. Most of the income reported by the candidates came from wages earned on the job and taxed at rates paid by the majority of Americans.
Because of different tax rules, not all income is taxed by the federal government.
“They all have good jobs, but they don’t have complicated returns,” Wandrei said. “I didn’t notice any huge investment income, like a Mitt Romney.”
One slight exception was Ross, who reported earning $146,000 in interest in 2012 from a federal investment. The income was the result of Ross’s cashing in all his US savings bonds from childhood, according to his campaign manager, Cayce McCabe.
In addition to his City Council salary of $87,500, Ross was paid roughly $71,000 for his work as an attorney with the law firm Prince Lobel Tye. He reported a total federal income of just over $293,000 and paid almost $74,000 in taxes, for an effective tax rate of 27 percent. He reported donating $725 to charity, which represented a quarter of a percent of his annual income.
Walsh also held several jobs in 2012. As a state representative, he was paid $77,000. He also earned roughly $175,000 as head of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, an umbrella group that represents unions of ironworkers, electricians, and others. Walsh resigned from the union post when he launched his mayoral bid.
Walsh is also head of Laborers Local 223 and was paid roughly $3,500 in 2012, according to tax documents provided by his campaign. He reported about $236,000 in federal income and paid almost $47,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, for an effective tax rate of almost 25 percent. Walsh donated almost $11,000 to charity, which represented just under 5 percent of his income.
The candidates’ effective tax rates ranged from a low of 12 percent paid by Councilor John R. Connolly and his wife, who reported just under $86,000 in federal income in 2012. Connolly is an attorney who reported earning roughly $3,500 from a partnership in a law firm, in addition to his city salary of $87,500. The law firm dissolved in October, Connolly said. He and his wife paid about $3,700 in federal taxes.
The highest effective tax rate among the candidates was almost 30 percent, paid by Walczak and his wife in 2011. They paid $135,000 in federal taxes.
“They are all paying at ordinary income tax rates,” Wandrei said. “They are not [paying lower rates] through capital gains or qualified dividends. They are not taking advantage of loopholes, if that’s what you want to call them, for people who have investment money.”
Menino and his wife have made their taxes public for years, and in 2012 their federal returns showed income of almost $187,000.
Six candidates reported more income than Menino: Walczak; Ross; John F. Barros and his wife ($258,575); Charlotte Golar Richie and her husband ($255,028); Walsh; and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and his wife ($196,811).
Menino earned more than four candidates: Cappucci, Connolly, Councilor Felix G. Arroyo and his wife ($151,598), and Councilor Robert Consalvo and his wife ($81,312).
Consalvo was the only candidate with handwritten returns, but that did not mean his family’s taxes were simple. The couple used complex accounting techniques, Wandrei said.
Cappucci, the retired police officer collecting a pension, gave the largest share of his income to charity, donating about 10 percent, or $6,000. Cappucci’s tax returns also showed a stock portfolio large enough to generate a $600,000 loss. In an interview, Cappucci said his portfolio was worth $1.5 million in 2007, but he invested it in one company, which crashed, leaving him with $70,000 in 2009. His stock has rebounded and is now worth $150,000 to $200,000, he said, and he also has a retirement account worth roughly $200,000.
The tax returns showed that Golar Richie was the candidate who gave the smallest share of her family’s income to charity, donating $451, accounting for 0.2 percent of their income. A campaign spokeswoman said that Richie and her family did not claim all of their charitable donations on their returns.
“She has given much more than that,” said the spokeswoman, Joyce Ferriabough Bolling.
Menino and his wife gave about 8 percent of their income to charity, or about $15,000. Walczak donated almost $19,000 in 2011, almost 4 percent of the family’s income.
Five candidates did not provide tax returns despite several requests: David James Wyatt; Charles L. Clemons Jr.; John G.C. Laing Jr.; Councilor Charles C. Yancey, who is paid $87,500 annually as a city councilor; and David S. Portnoy, who runs a website.