Pressuring Trump to follow, Rubio and Cruz release tax returns

Posted at 12:02 AM, Feb 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-28 00:02:56-05

WASHINGTON — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz released income and federal tax data Saturday as part of an attempt to pressure Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, to do the same.

Rubio released five years’ worth of financial information, saying the rates his family paid were in line with tax rates paid by Americans of similar income levels. And Cruz and his wife disclosed four years’ worth, bringing in more income than did the Rubio family.

But both campaigns only released the top lines of the forms, not the complete documents, providing only a limited look at their finances. Democrats and some Republicans quickly pounced on Rubio and Cruz for the limited release.

The moves from Cruz and Rubio come as Trump is under pressure to release his tax returns. 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney warned there could be a “bombshell” in Trump’s documents. Trump has so far declined to release his tax information, saying he’s being audited.

“It is time to stop the excuses,” Cruz said in a statement. “If Donald is embarrassed about his tax returns, it’s up to the voters to assess the facts.”

Cruz and his wife Heidi, a Goldman Sachs executive in Houston, made about $5 million from 2011 to 2014, the documents show. They paid about $1.5 million in taxes on that money, according to the joint returns.

The effective tax rate on that money ranged in those years from 28.54% to 32.22%, according to the campaign.

The couple’s top grossing year was 2011, when they together earned $1.73 million. That figure fell to $970,000 in 2013, Cruz’s first year in the Senate.

Prior to 2013, the Cruz family made much of their money through real estate, S corporations, royalties, partnerships or trusts, collecting over $1 million through those sources in 2011. Their income came from more traditional wages and salaries in 2013 and 2014.

Rubio reported less income at points. Rubio’s campaign said on its website that the family has earned $2.29 million since 2010, paying a total of $526,092 in taxes on that income. The campaign published joint federal tax returns from Rubio and his wife, Jeanette.

“There is no doubt the Rubio family has come a long way from the days when their largest monthly expense was a check to Sallie Mae and checks were sent in the mail to pay bills with the hope the payment did not arrive before the next paycheck was deposited into their account,” he said.

The Rubios’ income includes his earnings from his U.S. Senate salary, Florida International University, Rubio’s legal work, his books and Jeanette’s work at a philanthropic foundation, the campaign said.

Rubio saw a significant spike in income in 2012, earning $929,439 in 2012, the year his book, “An American Son: A Memoir” was released.

Rubio’s tax rate was 27.4% that year. The average tax rate for similar earners was 22.8%, the campaign said, citing the Tax Foundation, a conservative group.

In 2014, Rubio earned $335,561, paying a tax rate of 19.3%.

Democrats quickly attacked Rubio and Cruz for the limited release, saying Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released their full returns. They questioned why the pair isn’t willing to do the same thing he’s calling on Trump to do.

“Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are guilty of a stunning lack of disclosure, failing to meet the standard that even Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush adhered to in 2012, when he released his tax returns and making it impossible to complete a public accounting of deductions, exemptions, capital gains, household employees, corporate ownerships, and other important financial information,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century, which conducts opposition research on Republican candidates. “What are they hiding?”

And Mike Murphy, the director of Right to Rise USA, the Bush-aligned super PAC, said Rubio should release more returns to put more pressure on Trump.

“2 page top lines is a bit too clever by half… They should release ten years. Full tax docs. Raise heat on Trump,” Murphy said.