One of my favorite things about election cycles are the inevitable releases of candidate tax returns. Last night, Newt Gingrich released his 2010 joint Federal return and the Gingrich Foundation private foundation return to the media. The Gingriches reported $3,162,424 in gross income and paid taxes of $994,708.
From a political standpoint, I don’t think there’s a whole lot to glean from one’s tax return, but there’s a little bit of voyeuristic curiosity that can be satisfied peeking into how the candidate handles his/her business. Some observations from the returns:
- The first place I go to is Schedule A to see the amount of charitable contributions. The Gingriches show $81,000 in charitable contributions, about $68,000 of which is passed through from Gingrich Holdings (the returns for Gingrich Holdings and Gingrich Productions weren’t released).
- * The Gingriches paid $8,505 in tax preparation fees! Personal pitch to the former speaker: We’ll do it for half of that, and we’re local! I would presume the fees include prep work for the related Gingrich entities.
- * I also check to see if there’s a Schedule H – Household employment taxes. Many a political career has been sidetracked by not paying employment taxes on household employees. There is a Schedule H in the return.
- * The main takeaway for the media will always be the effective tax rate. The Gingriches are at about 31.6% of adjusted gross income.
- * Alimony – If you’re in the market for a divorce attorney, you may want to find who Gingrich uses. He’s only paying about $1,650 a month, with income of well over $2 million (total income on the return is over $3 million, but some of it is Callista Gingrich’s income).
- * Overall, there is very little in the return that would be deemed as overly aggressive. There are no non-cash contributions, and the Schedule C’s for director fees and speaking fees have no expenses offsetting the income. All in all, it looks like a return that was prepared knowing it might be released to the public one day.
I can’t wait to see the Romney return!