Print media noted Cindy McCain's limited financial release, but not how McCains benefit from tax cuts

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

In contrast with The New York Times' 2004 analysis of the benefit Teresa Heinz Kerry gained from the Bush tax cuts, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and The New York Times did not note, following the May 23 release of a summary of her 2006 tax returns, that Cindy McCain also benefited significantly from the tax cuts -- which Sen. John McCain has pledged to make permanent.

Following the release of part of Cindy McCain's 2006 tax returns on May 23, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and The New York Times noted that she reported more than $6 million in income for that year. But in contrast with The New York Times' analysis in 2004 of the benefit to Teresa Heinz Kerry of the Bush tax cuts, none of those outlets noted that Cindy McCain also benefited significantly from the tax cuts -- which her husband, Sen. John McCain, has pledged to make permanent.

In an October 16, 2004, article, The New York Times reported of Heinz Kerry, the wife of 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (MA): "She was a big beneficiary of the reductions in tax rates on dividends and capital gains that have been enacted under President Bush. She collected more than $2.2 million in dividends, all of which qualified for the new 15 percent tax rate, saving her $440,000, compared with the 35 percent rate that previously applied to dividends for those with million dollar-plus incomes."

In contrast with the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the AP, and The New York Times, in a May 24 article, Washington Post staff writers Jonathan Weisman and Matthew Mosk said that Cindy McCain's "returns also show just how much the McCain family stands to gain from the Arizona senator's pledge to make permanent President Bush's tax cuts, which he voted against."

From the May 24 Washington Post article:

Her returns also show just how much the McCain family stands to gain from the Arizona senator's pledge to make permanent President Bush's tax cuts, which he voted against.

"She's pretty rich," said Leonard Burman, a former Treasury official at the Urban Institute, who is the director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. "She would do well under Senator McCain's plan."

According to the summary, Cindy McCain earned $299,418 in wages and salary in 2006, much of which is taxed now at 35 percent but would be taxed at 39.6 percent if the Bush tax cuts lapse as scheduled in 2011.

The bulk of her income -- $4.55 million -- came from trusts, real estate rentals, partnerships and other passive ventures. The campaign did not release her Schedule E, which would have detailed them.

The McCain campaign did not release details of her tax deductions, but they totaled $569,737, a relatively small amount on income topping $6 million. Burman said that indicates a small amount of charitable giving from her personal wealth, since about half that deduction is probably for Arizona's 4.54 percent income tax. The John and Cindy McCain Foundation donated $78,250 in 2007 to nonprofits to which the couple are connected through their children.

She reported household employment tax payments of $24,162, indicating a staff of household help earning nearly $170,000.

From the October 16, 2004, New York Times article:

Ms. Heinz Kerry paid a federal tax of $628,401, which is 12.3 percent of her total income and 27.4 percent of her adjusted gross income.

She was a big beneficiary of the reductions in tax rates on dividends and capital gains that have been enacted under President Bush. She collected more than $2.2 million in dividends, all of which qualified for the new 15 percent tax rate, saving her $440,000, compared with the 35 percent rate that previously applied to dividends for those with million dollar-plus incomes.

Mr. Kerry, during the campaign, has proposed raising income taxes and dividends taxes on Americans who make over $200,000 back to the levels that they were before 2001, changes that would have an effect on his wife.

Nothing about the trusts that benefit Ms. Heinz Kerry herself and her three sons was disclosed. These trusts, set up after the 1991 death in an airplane crash of her first husband, Senator John Heinz, the heir to the H. J. Heinz Company fortune, are believed to be worth about a billion dollars.

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