You've seen Mark Dayton's tax returns. Will you see the next governor's?
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton made $365,000 in income last year and paid more than $100,000 in taxes, according to his 2016 tax returns, given to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor released his full state and federal 2016 tax returns to the Pioneer Press, continuing the pattern of disclosure he began when he was running for the job. He skipped releasing them in 2015, but made two years of returns public last year, as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was pressuring then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to release his.
While Trump has not released any of his recent tax returns, Dayton's 2010 decision to release his tax documents has prompted other past rivals for Minnesota governor to do the same.
Next year, all but one of the 10 prominent Democratic and Republican candidates vying to replace Dayton told the Pioneer Press they would continue the tradition of releasing their tax information.
Releasing tax returns gives Minnesotans a financial look at the sources of income their potential and current leaders have, beyond what is required by state law. It allows a look at how much the men and women who would set tax policy for the state have paid in taxes and how much they gave away in charitable contributions. It is also more invasive than state law requires.
All of the prominent Democratic candidates— U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state auditor Rebecca Otto and state Reps. Tina Liebling, Erin Murphy and Paul Thissen —confirmed they planned to release the information next year and would continue to do so should they become governor.
"I'm happy to do that," Thissen said.
All but one Republican said they, too, would make the voluntary disclosure.
Republican Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, said he would follow the practice he set in 2014, when he ran against Dayton.
"I released a summary from my accountant last time and will do so again as long as my DFL opponent is willing to do the same," Johnson said.
Keith Downey, a former state Republican Party chairman, said he would release his returns, and a spokesman for Republican state Rep. Matt Dean said he would follow the tradition set in Minnesota politics.
In response to the newspaper's questions, only Republican state Sen. Dave Osmek said definitively that he would not make the voluntary disclosure.
"What I earn for a living, or give to my church or charities, has nothing to do with the office of Minnesota governor. Nor should it," Osmek said.
Dayton's 2016 tax forms show that the scion of the eponymous department store fortune earned more money through capital gains and investments than he did from working for the state. His gubernatorial salary was $121,959. He earned $51,608 through dividends and $191,007 through capital gains.
The governor paid about $83,000 in federal taxes and a bit more than $30,000 in state income taxes. His federal tax payments include $15,500 levied for a household employee.
As in some previous years, the governor did not make significant charitable contributions—less than $2,000 for the year, according to his tax documents. In 2013, when his lack of big giving was noticed on his tax returns, he said he was disappointed in himself. The next year, he increased his giving to $10,000.
"It was a very expensive political year. I recognize that political contributions are not charitable contributions; however, they come out of the same checkbook," the governor said in a statement.
Last year, Dayton donated $30,400 to Clinton's campaign and political action committee and $22,300 to the Democratic National Committee, according to federal records.