(CN) – After releasing 10 years of tax returns Monday showing he is a millionaire, Senator Bernie Sanders brushed off suggestions his finances undercut his promise to curtail U.S. income inequality if he is elected president.
The returns reveal Sanders and his wife earned $561,293 in 2018, they made more than $1 million in 2016 and 2017 and they own three houses.
Much of Sanders’ income for those years came from royalties and advances from his latest books: “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” released in 2016, and 2018’s “Where We Go From Here.”
Sanders, 77, refused to apologize for his financial success at a town hall forum Monday night in Bethlehem, Pa. sponsored by Fox News, in which one of the network’s anchors asked the senator why he did not return some of his income to the U.S. Treasury Department given his call for progressive income tax rates.
Sanders has suggested a 45% tax rate on income between $500,000 and $2 million and 52% on income topping $10 million.
“I wrote a pretty good book,” Sanders said. “It was a bestseller, sold all over the world, and we made money. If anyone thinks I should apologize for writing a bestselling book, I’m sorry, I’m not gonna do it.”
Sanders’ tax return disclosure comes five days after the Treasury Department missed House Democrats’ deadline to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns. If the IRS does not meet House Democrats’ new April 23 deadline, the lawmakers may take the matter to court.
In a letter requesting Trump’s tax records, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., cited a 1924 law which states that, upon written request from committee chairman, the IRS shall furnish him the returns of any citizen.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Neal last week that the request raises serious concerns about the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, and he is consulting with the Justice Department on how to proceed.
Sanders called out Trump at the Fox News town hall Monday night.
“Why don’t you get Donald Trump up here and ask him how much he pays in taxes?” Sanders said. “President Trump watches your network a little bit, right? Hey President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same.”
A self-proclaimed progressive socialist, Sanders became a household name during the 2016 presidential election, in which his pledge to force corporations and the super-wealthy to pay more taxes resonated with younger voters.
Sanders, a Vermont Independent in his third term in the U.S. Senate, lost the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton. He’s running again as a Democrat in the 2020 election and is leading a crowded pack of contenders in fundraising.
Sanders’ campaign announced Monday it had raised $18.2 million in its first 41 days with 525,000 individual donors chipping in.
His platform calls for closing tax loopholes for corporations and passing his For the 99.8 Percent Act, which would raise the estate tax for inheritances over $1 billion to 77%.
“At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country that is based on the ability to pay. It is unacceptable that major corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes, and that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate that is lower than their secretaries,” his platform states.