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Tax Returns Tell Tricky Tales Of How Super Wealthy Candidates Avoid Paying Some Taxes

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With the election just three weeks away, both Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker released their 2017 tax returns on Wednesday.

The documents reveal that both candidates use tax tricks only available to the super wealthy to pay a whole lot less than most people.

CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley poured over the numbers and has the story.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote "the rich are different from you and me."

And the tax returns of near-billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner and multi-billionaire challenger J.B. Pritzker reveal precisely why.

On his federal returns, Rauner reported zero income from wages or salary.

That's right, none.

Pritzker reported exactly the same. That alone means neither paid Social Security or Medicare taxes that most people routinely pay.

Then there's the source of income itself.

Rauner reported almost 35.2 million dollars in capital gains alone. That's taxed at just 15 per cent, far less than the 22 to 24 per cent middle class families pay. And Rauner reported a big 17.4 million dollar loss, likely from trusts. Paper losses that dramatically lower his tax liability.

Meantime, Pritzker said he made a whopping 36.7 million, again likely from trusts alone. The exact source? No one can tell. Which is precisely why trusts are established.

As for total federal income, Rauner said he made 52.6 million. Pritzker just 41.1 million. How does Pitzker earn dramatically less than Rauner, even though Pritzker is reportedly worth at least three times more? Rauner thinks he knows.

"He can't be trusted on taxes. He keeps his money in offshore accounts in the Bahamas...inherited billions and doesn't pay taxes on it," said Rauner.

Pritzker acknowledges he has extensive family, personal and offshore trusts, but it's impossible to determine just how much they reduce his taxes.

Governor Rauner has also invested millions offshore through investments controlled by his Rauner Family Foundation. In 2015, that foundation reported about 44 million dollars in assets.

Both candidates only released the summary pages of their tax returns, not the supporting schedules or the returns for their trusts. Those would provide much greater detail about their complex investments.

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