Wealthiest Democratic Candidates For Illinois Release Tax Returns

Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker
Courtesy of the candidates
Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker
Courtesy of the candidates

Wealthiest Democratic Candidates For Illinois Release Tax Returns

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After months of promising to release their tax returns, two Democratic candidates for Illinois governor have made them public. At least, part of them.

Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker both released the top pages of their recent tax returns Monday, shortly after filing nominating petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The disclosure of tax returns is not required of candidates, but has become customary for those seeking high-profile offices.

Kennedy, the son of former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, reported $1.2 million in adjusted gross income for him and his wife in 2016. They paid $174,008 in federal taxes that year.

Kennedy has contributed more than $500,000 to his own gubernatorial campaign so far, according to campaign filings.

Pritzker, a venture capitalist and an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, also released the top pages of his taxes from 2014 through 2016 on Monday. Those documents show he and his wife reported adjusted gross income of almost $14.9 million dollars in 2016, and paid $4.1 million in taxes. In 2015, they claimed adjusted gross income of $9.9 million and paid $2.4 million, and they reported $3.1 million in 2014, with a total tax of $1.2 million.

But neither campaign released more detailed tax documents beyond the first two cover pages of their tax returns. Those only provide top-line numbers on things like itemized deductions earned by each candidate.

While Pritzker’s campaign did not release documentation about the trusts that benefit him, it said in a statement that the trusts paid an additional $128.9 million in federal taxes between 2014 and 2016. Forbes estimates Pritzker is worth $3.4 billion.

Pritzker has not accepted contributions for his campaign, choosing to self-fund instead. So far his campaign has run on more than $35 million of Pritzker’s own money, according to state records.

Another Democrat running for governor, State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, compared both Kennedy and Pritzker to President Donald Trump for not releasing their full taxes.

“A short summary from only a year or two doesn’t give a full picture – it only raises more questions,” Biss said.

Biss released five years of his tax returns earlier this year, showing his income mostly comes from his salary as a state senator. Biss reported earning $32,568 last year during the state budget impasse.

Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner has similarly released the top pages of his income taxes. Rauner reported earning $90.4 million to the federal government last year.

Also on Monday, candidates filed their statements of economic interest with their nominating petitions.

Pritzker’s disclosure gives a picture of where he earns his wealth, from a large list of stocks and membership interests in everything from Apple Inc. to The Walt Disney Co. Chris Kennedy’s statement similarly shows he owns stock in dozens of companies from McDonald’s to Kraft Heinz.

Other Democratic candidates, Biss and Madison County Regional schools superintendent Bob Daiber, reported having no significant ownership interest in companies in their financial disclosure forms.

Editor’s note: Chicago Public Media receives philanthropic support from The Pritzker Foundation. J.B. Pritzker, who is campaigning for governor in the Democratic Primary, is not involved with the foundation and does not contribute to it.