Braun releases more tax documents
By Chris Fusco Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2011 8:20PM
Carol Moseley Braun
Updated: April 19, 2011 5:16AM
Trying to put out a political fire over her precarious financial situation, Carol Moseley Braun released her 2005 through 2009 federal tax returns Monday and enlisted experts to attempt to explain the documents.
The Chicago mayoral candidate’s release of nearly 100 pages of tax information came exactly one week after she declared she wouldn’t make public any of her tax returns before the Feb. 22 municipal-general election “because I don’t want to.”
The next day, Braun apologized for being flippant and released portions of her 2008 and 2009 returns. But those documents — plus others Braun released later last week — raised numerous questions about her financial plight, especially in light of a Chicago Sun-Times story last month that revealed she has four mortgages totaling $2 million on her Hyde Park row house, which has been for sale for 10 months.
Braun didn’t personally address those questions Monday, instead sending her accountant and two lawyers to meet with news reporters. In a 50-minute discussion, they said that Braun — contrary to public statements she made as recently as Friday — wants to discuss her taxes and put the issue to rest.
“Carol Moseley Braun has absolutely nothing to hide” and “wants to make full, complete, accurate, comprehensive disclosure of all relevant information to the same extent, the same degree, as the other candidates in this race,” said David S. Schaffer, one of Braun’s lawyers.
Indeed, the release of Braun’s returns brings her in line with top mayoral contenders Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico, who released five years’ worth of tax returns ahead of her.
Unlike Emanuel and Chico, though, Braun’s returns show her reporting a negative income three of the last five years: 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The new documents also revealed a gaffe: The 2007 tax return Braun released Monday was different from the 2007 tax return she released last week.
Braun’s accountant, Vivian Funches, explained that the document released last week was a “draft” that incorrectly stated that Braun declared only $216 in taxable income from a $150,333 annuity she redeemed.
Braun’s actual 2007 return — the one that went to the IRS — shows Braun declared $150,117 in taxable income on the money she received. But Braun still didn’t pay any federal tax that year because of six-figure losses she reported from her small organic-food company, Good Food Organics LLC, which operates under the name Ambassador Organics.
In 2005 — the same year Braun started Good Food Organics — Braun paid $30,584 in federal taxes on $169,833 in income, including $80,000 she earned from CMB One Corp., her legal, consulting and public-speaking business.
CMB One owns 80 percent of Good Food Organics, which explains why the food company’s name does not appear on any of Braun’s tax filings, Schaffer said.
In 2006 — the same year Braun bought her home for $1.7 million — she reported a $259,756 loss from CMB One’s stake in the food company. Those losses carried over in subsequent years, with Braun reporting negative incomes of minus-$163,807 in 2006, minus-$138,578 in 2007, and minus-$225,908 in 2008.
Still, Braun had income during that time. She took a $95,000 salary from Good Food Organics in 2007 and a $55,000 salary from the company in 2008, according to Funches and Braun’s tax records. That — plus income from her government pensions, speaking engagements and the $150,333 annuity — apparently has given her income to pay her bills and mortgages.
In 2009, Braun was out of the red — though not by much. She reported $15,561 in income and paid $785 in self-employment tax.
Braun’s business losses aren’t detailed on her personal returns, but on business returns. To release those documents would go beyond what other mayoral candidates have done, Schaffer said.
Similarly, Braun doesn’t appear to ready to divulge who invests in her privately held food company as those “investors have an absolute right to privacy,” Schaffer said.