Politics & Policy

John Kerry’s Bright Financial Picture

The candidate profits from the sale of a 17th-century artwork.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s largest single source of income in 2003 came from the sale of his half-interest in a painting by a 17th-century Dutch artist, according to tax returns released Tuesday by the Kerry campaign. (To see Kerry’s entire 2003 federal return, click here.)

Kerry’s 2003 return shows that he received $175,000 as his part from the sale of a work by the 17th-century Dutch seascape painter Adam Willaerts.

Kerry’s Senate salary for 2003 was $147,818.

The return says Kerry acquired his half of the painting for $500,000 in May 1996 and sold his portion in March 2003 for $675,000.

In 1996, the year he acquired his half of the $1,000,000 picture, Kerry reported a total income of $143,795.

The return does not say who owned the other half of the painting, which sold in 2003 for a total of $1,350,000, but it was presumably Kerry’s multimillionaire heiress wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. The two file separate tax returns, and the campaign did not release any information about Mrs. Kerry’s income or taxes.

Kerry also reported $89,220 in royalties from his campaign autobiography, A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America, published last October by Viking Press.

In all, taking into account losses from investments, Kerry reported a total 2003 income of $395,338. His total federal tax bill was $90,575. He had $27,277 of that withheld from his paychecks and paid the rest, $63,298, with his tax return.

Kerry reported giving $43,735, or about 11 percent of his total income, to charity. That significant level of giving stands in contrast to his record in the 1990s, in which the issue of the senator’s charitable contributions was a source of controversy. In 1995, Kerry reportedly had a taxable income of $126,179, and made charitable contributions of $0. In 1994, he gave $2,039 to charity. In 1993, the figure was $175. In 1992, it was $820, and in 1991, it was $0.

Kerry’s 2003 return illustrates the extent to which Kerry’s lifestyle is subsidized by his wife. Apart from the income from the painting, Kerry’s Senate salary would not be enough to pay the property taxes on the several residences they own.

In addition to his 2003 returns, Kerry also released federal tax returns from the years 1999 to 2002 yesterday. There has been some dispute about returns for those years. Kerry has claimed that he had already released the returns–in January of this year, he said, ” I released all my tax returns for 20 years. I have never not released my tax returns throughout my political career.” But aside from releasing details from his 2002 taxes–which showed a total income of $144,091–it is not clear that Kerry has ever made public his returns from 1999 or 2000 or 2001 before now.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

Most Popular

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Media

Jeffrey Toobin and Our Public-Hate Ritual

Oh, Jeffrey Toobin — let him among us with a free hand cast the first stone. Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker and fixture on CNN, was participating in a role-playing exercise on a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues, wargaming election-night scenarios. Toobin was standing in for the courts when he ... Read More
Media

Jeffrey Toobin and Our Public-Hate Ritual

Oh, Jeffrey Toobin — let him among us with a free hand cast the first stone. Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker and fixture on CNN, was participating in a role-playing exercise on a Zoom call with his magazine colleagues, wargaming election-night scenarios. Toobin was standing in for the courts when he ... Read More