Black, Harwell and Fitzhugh release income tax info; other gubernatorial candidates refuse

Four of the seven major candidates for Tennessee governor have turned down a Tennessean request to make public details of their federal income tax returns.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black and fellow Republican state House Speaker Beth Harwell provided financial summaries. Of the other Republican candidates Mae Beavers, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee declined – though Boyd indicated he may reconsider in the future.

On the Democrat side, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh released a copy of his 2016 return and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean declined the request, though indicating he may reconsider later.

The resulting Tennessean story leads on the financial summaries that show Black and her husband had $78.6 million in taxable income from 2013 to 2016 while Harwell and her spouse had $1.5 million during the same time period.

An excerpt:

The 2016 tax return for Fitzhugh and his wife reveals they earned $464,000 last year, which is less than the Blacks but more than the Harwells.

…Black, who at one point was named one of the richest members of Congress, and her husband, David, earned $7.2 million in 2016, according to tax documents provided by the campaign. (Note: It was the basic 1040; no accompanying schedules, etc.)

Roughly half – or $3.6 million – was earned through the sale of property or investments, with another $2.5 million earned through rental real estate, royalties, partnerships or trusts, according to her tax return. The couple reported earning nearly $717,000 in wages or salaries.

The family’s taxable income for 2016 was $5.6 million, leaving them to pay $1.5 million in federal taxes.

… Harwell and her husband Sam, who owns Big Time Toys, had about $369,000 in income last year, according to an income tax summary created by a certified public accountant.

The income tax summary did not divulge where the Harwells earned the income. The campaign provided a copy of Harwell’s statement of disclosure of interests, which candidates and state lawmakers must fill out each year.

… The Harwells’ taxable income for 2016 was $301,500.

Their income between 2013 and 2015 increased each year, according to the tax summary. In 2013, the family reported an income of nearly $240,000, followed by about $418,000 in 2014. In 2015, the couple earned nearly $567,000.

Harwell and her husband paid $560,000 in federal income taxes from 2013 to 2016. At the same time, they paid $43,400 in state taxes.

… The majority of the $464,000 Fitzhugh, who is CEO and chairman of a small bank chain in Ripley, and his wife Pamela made last year came from wages and salary. They reported earning nearly $313,000 in wages in 2016.

The Fitzhughs’ taxable income for the year was roughly $392,000. They paid $91,000 in federal taxes.

…In a statement, Lee said, “As chairman of Lee Company, a privately held company, in the interest of protecting my business and the over 1,200 employees there, I will not be releasing my tax returns in this campaign.”

… Boyd spokeswoman Laine Arnold said the request is “something we will certainly consider in due time once the final field of candidates is set and as we see what the other candidates intend to do.”

… A spokesman for Beavers refused to respond to multiple requests for tax returns, at one point instead suggesting a story about Haslam’s decision to not release his own tax returns during his run for governor.

A spokeswoman for Dean said while they would not be able to provide documents within one month of the initial request, the campaign would consider providing such information in time.

Note: Haslam in 2010 broke a decades-old tradition of major gubernatorial candidates releasing tax returns. And, of course, Donald Trump broke a decades-old tradition of major presidential candidates releasing tax return information. Both were criticized for their secrecy during their campaigns. Both won.

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