Bernie Sanders releases 10 years of tax returns

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) We are getting a look at Sen. Bernie Sanders' tax returns for the first time.

The Democratic presidential front-runner had promised 10 years of his tax returns would be released Monday. We waited all day to see them and the Sanders campaign released them at 6 p.m. sharp.

Here are some of the highlights from 2018:

-Sanders and his wife, Jane, made $561,293.

-They owe $8,267 in taxes.

That's a drop from both 2017 and 2016 when the Sanders' total income was over $1 million, an amount which can be attributed in large part to the senator's best-selling book.

Click here for the tax return information on Bernie Sanders' website.

Our Neal Goswami has been speaking with a political scientist and voters to see if Sanders' tax returns really matter.

Sanders has called for President Trump to release his tax returns and today he finally did the same but it doesn't seem like examining Sanders' tax returns are a top priority for the voters we spoke with but they want them released anyway.

"Everybody should release their tax returns if they're running for president," said Gigi Wizowaty, who is visiting Vermont from California. She says tax returns can help voters understand a candidate's values.
"We need to know if they are scrupulous, if they're honest. If they don't file a good tax return, that's sort of the bottom line for whether you're qualified to be president or not."

Sen. Bernie Sanders released a short summary from one tax year during his 2016 campaign. This year, facing intense pressure, Sanders says he'll release ten years' worth of returns.

Middlebury College political Scientist Matt Dickinson says Sanders' taxes matter because his message has focused on ensuring the wealthy pay their share. "It matters more in terms of his candidacy than most candidacies because so much of his candidacy is premised on the idea that he has a class-based message," Dickinson said.

Tax returns, Dickinson says, are useful in determining if candidates have conflicts, give to charity, or whether they connect with the average voter. "The only way that they become an issue is if there's a contradiction between them that make you reconsider his message in light of what his tax returns say," he said.

Sanders's tax returns are likely to show he's become a millionaire in recent years, which he attributes to a best-selling book he authored. Voters don't seem to care about his new wealth. "No, he seemed to have earned it honestly. I don't think it's a problem," Wizowaty said.

"To be honest, a millionaire is not quite what a millionaire used to be. He's worked hard for his money. He's an honest man," said Andrew Champagne of Burlington.

Dickinson says barring any surprises buried in the returns, voters aren't likely to pay much attention to them. "I suspect Joe and Jane Six-pack are -- unless there's something we don't know about -- are gonna move on from this story once they're released. And that's a reason to release them," he said.