By Joseph Tanfani, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)
WASHINGTON — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made $7.4 million during 2013 and paid about 40 percent in taxes, according to his tax return, part of a disclosure of 33 years of tax information released Tuesday by his presidential campaign.
Bush released the documents on his website, making a case for transparency in an ever more crowded Republican presidential field. In a statement he released on his website, he said he paid an average effective rate of 36 percent.
Bush said there were a total of 1,150 pages, “largely because we have a broken tax system that’s one of the most convoluted and anti-growth in the world.”
In the statement, Bush said he’s released more tax information than any other presidential candidate, noting that he has also released 280,000 emails. Yet the release comes during continued scrutiny of Bush’s business dealings in South Florida, both before and after his two terms as Florida governor. He has made money as a real estate developer, worked the lecture circuit, served as a business consultant and served on a number of corporate boards, including corporate giants like Tenet Healthcare and Lehman Bros.
Some of those dealings have landed him in controversy: The head of one company for which Bush served as a board member and paid consultant went to jail for fraud, after getting millions in government loans. Bush has said he quit the company as soon as the problems surfaced.
He also set up funds that invested in foreign business ventures. He says he has unwound those partnerships, as well as his other business ventures, as he prepared to launch his presidential campaign.
“But one thing I didn’t do was get paid to lobby or cut deals with the state government I just left,” he said in the statement. “That was a line I drew and it was the right one.”
In 2013, he reported giving about $110,600 to charity, or 1.5 percent of his income.
In releasing the returns, Bush may be trying to sidestep the kind of controversy that dogged the GOP’s last nominee, Mitt Romney, who endured months of criticism and questions in 2012 about the taxes he paid on the fortune he earned as a private equity manager. He eventually released two years of returns.
So far, former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina is the only other candidate who has disclosed tax returns; she released two years.
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Photo: Jeb Bush speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)