Evanston’s candidate for governor, State Sen. Daniel Biss, released tax returns today that show that on average he paid just $337 a year in federal income taxes over the past five years.

Biss and his wife, NU PhD candidate Karin Steinbrueck, averaged $54,936 in annual adjusted gross income over the same period, substantially less than the median household income in Evanston of $70,041.

Child care expense credits for their two sons and significant itemized deductions, mostly for home mortgage interest and property taxes, helped cut their tax liability almost to the vanishing point.

Their only significant investment income came from a single-family rental property they own in Champaign, Illinois.

The family’s income was dramatically reduced last year because of delays in salary payments to state lawmakers because of the state’s budget crisis.

Biss has introduced legislation that would require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns as a condition of appearing on the ballot in Illinois.

He has also called on the other Democratic candidates for governor to release their tax returns.

Biss said, “Voters have the right to be confident that their elected officials are doing things for the right reasons, and that they are putting the interest of the people first.”

Related documents

The Biss tax returns

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Would Biss forego his legislator salary?

    So Democrat Daniel Biss hardly pays any federal income taxes. Sounds like he’s not paying his fair share. 

    Remember, it was Biss who voted for Senate Bill 16 in which school districts such as D65 and D202 with higher assessed property values would receive much less State funding. In other words, we vote for Biss and he votes to take away state funding to our schools.

    Evanstonians just passed a $116 million tax hike to pay for the already broke D65, though the district managed to give the Teacher’s Union a pay hike in December. Ironically, Biss has supported bills to increase the salaries of public school teachers.

    President Trump has decided not to accept his $400,000 a year salary as president and has donated his first quarter pay to the National Park Service. Would Daniel Biss if elected governor agree not to accept his governer’s salary and intead donate it elsewhere? 

    1. Absurd

      Hi Al,

      Biss appears to be making good use of the tax advantages available to homeowners with children to legally reduce his tax burden. Suspect President Trump does the same — although since he won’t disclose his taxes, we can’t be sure.

      If Biss gave up his public paycheck, his family might starve. Don’t think that’s an issue for Trump.

      — Bill

      1. Tax returns

        He still overpaid Illinois because interest on obligations of the United States Treasury are exempt from state tax.

    2. Federal taxes and schools

      Al says :  “Democrat Daniel Biss hardly pays any federal income taxes. Sounds like he’s not paying his fair share. ” – then Al goes on to talk about property taxes and teacher salaries.

      Al, Federal taxes are entirely different than local property taxes.  Even if we agree with your cheap mischaracterization of Biss not paying enough in Federal taxes, it is clear that he is paying his property taxes to support the schools.

      I’m wondering, Al, if you are paying your fair share.  You have posted in support of the City keeping the Harley Clarke mansion – are you paying your “fair share” of taxes to support the maintenance, as well as to cover the lost property taxes lost by not selling it to a private owner?  I think we need to see your federal and state returns.

    3. Accomplish more in or out of government ?

      It would be best if all legislators, state and federal, would be part-time and return to the ‘farm’ as the Founders envisioned. How many already have private jobs ? On the state level I assume a substantial number–and probably most as lawyers—practicing or just reaping the earnings of firms they own. Given how much state and federal legislators actually accomplish [talking does not count] we would probably not notice the difference—esp. at state level. Maybe knowing they only have so many days to do their work, would focus their minds and they would get to work.. The Founders saw the legislators as having real jobs—farmers included. I’m torn between whether having farmers, doctors, teachers and ‘ordinary’ people in the legislatures is best or have them keep to their chosen professions—which actually add something meaningful to society. Clearly having so many lawyers in the legislatures has not added much to society or the country. As it is, even the ‘best’ wind-up accomplishing little except butting their head against the wall—in Illinois we know the chief wall is Mike Madigan whether you are a representative, senator or about anyone else. Biss had an honorable career before joining state government and net probably accomplished more.

  2. He’s got my vote

    Biss and his wife are living in Evanston as homeowners and raising two young children, while she’s working toward a PhD at Northwestern on less than $55K a year? Wow! Can they walk on water, too?

    1. Very Decent

      This was very decent of Biss and maybe the other candidates will follow his example.

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