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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted her 2016 federal and state tax returns Tuesday, but not to send a message to President Donald Trump, who famously has not released any of his. Rather, Gillibrand puts her returns online every year, in the "sunlight" section...

Gillibrand's husband used a similar tax strategy as Trump—to much lesser effect

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted her 2016 federal and state tax returns Tuesday, but not to send a message to President Donald Trump, who famously has not released any of his. Rather, Gillibrand puts her returns online every year, in the "sunlight" section...

Gillibrand's husband used a similar tax strategy as Trump—to much lesser effect

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted her 2016 federal and state tax returns Tuesday, but not to send a message to President Donald Trump, who famously has not released any of his. Rather, Gillibrand puts her returns online every year, in the "sunlight" section of her website (but not in the "transparency" section, which is about the rest of the government).

She filed jointly with her husband, investor Jonathan Gillibrand, reporting $180,611 in household wages (94% of which was earned by the senator), $273 in interest and the maximum allowable capital loss of $3,000, part of a $22,365 loss carried over from prior years.

It makes sense to sell assets that have declined in value to offset income, especially for earners in high tax brackets. Trump also used losses to offset income, but to a much greater extent because he took advantage of a loophole available to developers that can run into the millions, rather than an annual cap of $3,000.

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It appears that the Gillibrands did not donate any appreciated assets (such as stocks that have risen in value), which is the smartest way to help charities; instead, they donated a modest $3,000 by cash or check and $222 by other means, perhaps by bringing used goods to a thrift shop.

Even households pulling in $180,000 can get federal tax credits for child-care expenses, and the Gillibrands took one for $1,200, as well as New York tax credits totaling $590. (They have two sons, Theodore and Henry.) They deducted $16,422 in state and local taxes and $21,438 in property taxes—two federal breaks that congressional Republicans want to get rid of in order to broadly cut tax rates. Residents of blue states such as New York, where state and local taxes are high, benefit disproportionately from this deduction.

The senator and her husband did not report any use tax, meaning they claim to have made no untaxed online purchases in 2016. Taxpayers are on the honor system to divulge such purchases, but very few do, which is why Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation to force retailers to collect these unpaid taxes. However, internet retailers lobbied hard against the measure and the Legislature did their bidding, excluding it from the state budget passed earlier this month.

Obamacare taxes cost the Gillibrands nothing because their earnings were less than $250,000 in 2016. That is the threshold below which no Americans were to have their taxes increased according to a 2008 campaign promise made and kept by Barack Obama.

The Gillibrands will get a federal refund of $6,073, which means they essentially gave Uncle Sam an interest-free loan in that amount by having too much income withheld during the year. Because their income is so predictable, that could have been avoided—something they might want to bring up with CPA Jonathan Rutnick, who prepared their return. They also overpaid New York by $1,498, and for some reason requested their state refund via paper check rather than direct deposit, which is faster and safer. Jonathan Gillibrand's $11,632 in income was earned in Washington, D.C., so he also filed a return there, claiming a refund of $796.

The couple were unable to deduct $990 in unreimbursed work expenses because the figure did not add up to at least 2% of their income.

The $273 in interest they received from Citibank suggests that they kept a fair amount of cash uninvested in 2016, which was a mistake because the U.S. stock market had a good year (the S&P 500 returned 12.25%, including dividends). On the plus side, they did not claim a foreign tax credit, indicating that they did not hold international stocks, which have underperformed in recent years.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted her 2016 federal and state tax returns Tuesday, but not to send a message to President Donald Trump, who famously has not released any of his. Rather, Gillibrand puts her returns online every year, in the "sunlight" section of her website (but not in the "transparency" section, which is about the rest of the government).

She filed jointly with her husband, investor Jonathan Gillibrand, reporting $180,611 in household wages (94% of which was earned by the senator), $273 in interest and the maximum allowable capital loss of $3,000, part of a $22,365 loss carried over from prior years.

It makes sense to sell assets that have declined in value to offset income, especially for earners in high tax brackets. Trump also used losses to offset income, but to a much greater extent because he took advantage of a loophole available to developers that can run into the millions, rather than an annual cap of $3,000.

It appears that the Gillibrands did not donate any appreciated assets (such as stocks that have risen in value), which is the smartest way to help charities; instead, they donated a modest $3,000 by cash or check and $222 by other means, perhaps by bringing used goods to a thrift shop.

Even households pulling in $180,000 can get federal tax credits for child-care expenses, and the Gillibrands took one for $1,200, as well as New York tax credits totaling $590. (They have two sons, Theodore and Henry.) They deducted $16,422 in state and local taxes and $21,438 in property taxes—two federal breaks that congressional Republicans want to get rid of in order to broadly cut tax rates. Residents of blue states such as New York, where state and local taxes are high, benefit disproportionately from this deduction.

The senator and her husband did not report any use tax, meaning they claim to have made no untaxed online purchases in 2016. Taxpayers are on the honor system to divulge such purchases, but very few do, which is why Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation to force retailers to collect these unpaid taxes. However, internet retailers lobbied hard against the measure and the Legislature did their bidding, excluding it from the state budget passed earlier this month.

Obamacare taxes cost the Gillibrands nothing because their earnings were less than $250,000 in 2016. That is the threshold below which no Americans were to have their taxes increased according to a 2008 campaign promise made and kept by Barack Obama.

The Gillibrands will get a federal refund of $6,073, which means they essentially gave Uncle Sam an interest-free loan in that amount by having too much income withheld during the year. Because their income is so predictable, that could have been avoided—something they might want to bring up with CPA Jonathan Rutnick, who prepared their return. They also overpaid New York by $1,498, and for some reason requested their state refund via paper check rather than direct deposit, which is faster and safer. Jonathan Gillibrand's $11,632 in income was earned in Washington, D.C., so he also filed a return there, claiming a refund of $796.

The couple were unable to deduct $990 in unreimbursed work expenses because the figure did not add up to at least 2% of their income.

The $273 in interest they received from Citibank suggests that they kept a fair amount of cash uninvested in 2016, which was a mistake because the U.S. stock market had a good year (the S&P 500 returned 12.25%, including dividends). On the plus side, they did not claim a foreign tax credit, indicating that they did not hold international stocks, which have underperformed in recent years.

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