WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren released her 2018 tax return on Wednesday morning, joining a growing group of Democratic presidential contenders who have made the information public as they seek to use the issue of financial transparency as a cudgel against President Trump.
Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, reported a combined adjusted gross income of $846,394, and had $230,965 in total taxes, according to the return, a drop of about $67,000 from her adjusted gross income in 2017. Overall, they paid about a 26% tax rate, down from nearly 28% in 2017.
The couple’s main sources of income were $402,897 from Harvard, which Mann earns as a law professor, Warren’s $176,280 salary as a senator, and $324,687 in writing income related to her books (Warren is also a professor emeritus at Harvard, but does not draw a salary for that title). Those added up to a total income of $905,742 before various deductions.
After withholdings and other payments, Warren and Mann owed $24,477 in taxes for 2018, and made $50,128 in charitable gifts.
Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has called for more transparency in government as a way to curtail corruption and self-enrichment in Washington, put 10 years of her tax returns online last summer.
The release of tax returns from presidential candidates like Warren, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota comes as Democrats ramp up pressure on Trump to release his own tax returns, which he has refused to do in defiance of longstanding norms around the presidency. Congressman Richard Neal, the Springfield Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, requested Trump’s returns last week, and other Democrats in the House are seeking ways to get to the returns.
Warren is among a group of candidates who have revealed more than a decade of their own tax returns, hoping to draw a contrast with Trump and pressure other Democrats, like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, to do the same.
But by drawing attention to their own personal finances, Warren and some other Democrats also are highlighting their own wealth, creating some awkwardness as they vie to take on the billionaire Trump by emphasizing issues such as economic inequality and the eroding middle class.
According to her reported financial disclosure forms, which list assets in ranges, Warren and Mann hold between $4 million and about $11 million in investment funds and retirement accounts. Last year, she also received a $300,000 advance for her book, “This Fight is our Fight.”
Other candidates who have yet to release their tax returns may end up revealing aspects of their own financial successes if and when they do so.
Sanders, who has been criticized for not releasing more of his tax returns, told the New York Times on Tuesday that he plans to do so by April 15 — and said he had crossed into millionaire territory thanks to his book sales. O’Rourke had a net worth of nearly $9 million in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and has told reporters on the campaign trail he plans to release his tax returns soon.
Other millionaire candidates in the Democratic presidential field reportedly include former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and John Delaney, the former Maryland congressman who has loaned his campaign more than $4.5 million.
It is hardly unusual for candidates for high office to be wealthy. Every president since Harry Truman has been or became a millionaire. And members of Congress tend to be wealthier than most Americans; Warren was the 28th-richest member of the Senate in 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks political spending, and Roll Call, a Capitol Hill news publication, ranked her as the 19th-richest member of the Senate last year.
(In 2018, the four wealthiest members of the Senate were all Democrats: Mark Warner of Virginia, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri).
But, regardless of their level of wealth, many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are hoping transparency about their finances will help them in an era of government distrust. Warren has introduced a sweeping anti-corruption package that includes requiring tax returns for candidates for president and vice president to be released by the IRS — a proposal that sometimes draws standing ovations when she brings it up on the campaign trial.
Gillibrand, who was the first of the 2020 contenders to release her 2018 tax return, posted previous tax returns online going back to 2007. Klobuchar posted 12 years of tax returns in early April. Jay Inslee, the Washington governor who is focusing his presidential campaign on climate change, has posted 12 years worth of returns.