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Heinz Kerry Paid Lower Tax Rate Than Most Taxpayers
Mon Oct 18 2004 10:20:34 ET
The Kerry campaign finally released Teresa Heinz Kerry's 2003 tax return, or rather two pages of it, late last Friday, the WALL STREET JOURNAL details.
"We think she ought to release the rest of her return, since her wealth was crucial to salvaging her husband's struggling campaign during the Democratic primaries in 2003."
"But even this minimal disclosure deserves more attention in light of John Kerry's pledge to raise tax rates. In 2003, Mrs. Kerry -- or Teresa Heinz, as she declared herself on her IRS 1040 form -- earned $5.07 million, hardly a surprising income for someone estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion.
"The news is that $2.78 million of that income came in the form of tax- exempt interest from what the Kerry campaign's press release attributed to investments in 'state, municipal and public entity bonds.' What the campaign didn't say is that these are the kind of investments that rich people can afford to hire lawyers and accountants to steer their money into."
On her "remaining 'taxable' income of $2.29 million, Mrs. Kerry paid $627,150 in taxes, for an overall average federal tax rate of only 12.4% on her $5.07 million in total income." This "puts Mrs. Kerry's tax rate at well below that of other filers in her super-rich neighborhood. But it also means she is paying a lower average rate than nearly all middle- class taxpayers paid in 2001, the last year for which the IRS has published the data.
The top 50% of all federal filers contributed 96.1% of all federal income taxes in 2001, and they paid an average income-tax rate of 15.9%. That's 3.5-percentage points more than Mrs. Kerry paid in 2003." At the "very least, Mrs. Kerry's tax returns are a screaming illustration of the need for reform to make the tax code simpler and fairer. But they also show that Senator Kerry's proposed tax increases are much more about a revenue grab than they are about tax justice."
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