Candidate Jeb Bush bares 33 years of tax returns in show of transparency

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Jeb Bush Releasing 33 Years of Tax Records in Show of Transparency

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush released 33 years of tax records on Tuesday showing that his net worth of between $19 million and $22 million has been amassed largely through investments and speaking fees that have been as high as $75,000 per engagement.

In a show of transparency expected to pressure his rivals to bare their tax records, Bush revealed that since the end of his tenure as Florida governor in 2007, his annual income has risen sharply to nearly $7.4 million in 2013 from $260,580 in 2006.

Talking to a handful of reporters in Washington about the 1,150 pages of returns made public, Bush, 62, said his hope was to "give people a sense of who I am."

He said, "It's not a life that has been scripted to run for president. I've led a life with ups and downs," said Bush, who comes from a family of means and whose father George H.W. Bush and brother George W. Bush were elected president.

In his quest for the Republican nomination in a crowded field of 14 candidates, Bush has increasingly sought to contrast himself with rivals in his own party, and Hillary Clinton, the front runner for the Democratic nomination in the November 2016 election.

See photos of Bush throughout the years:

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Candidate Jeb Bush bares 33 years of tax returns in show of transparency
** FILE ** President George W. Bush, center, walks off the 18th hole with his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and father, former President George Bush, left, at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine, in this July 7, 2001 file picture. Could there be a third President Bush? The current chief said Wednesday May 10, 2006 that younger brother Jeb would make a great one, too, and has asked him about making a run. The first President Bush likes the idea as well. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Bush, center, with former President George H.W. Bush, left, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, walk together after participating in the christening ceremony of the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush in Newport News, Va., Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, listens as former President George H. W. Bush offers condolences to the Ford family during a news conference in remembrance of former President Gerald R. Ford at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2006. (AP Photo/Armando Solares)
President Bush waves to the crowd with his wife, Laura, and brother Jeb Bush on Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, in Pensacola, Fla., where Bush was drumming up support for local Republican candidates. (AP Photo/Mari Darr~Welch)
President Bush, left, stands on stage with his brother Gov. Jeb Bush, right, at a campaign rally at Pensacola Civic Center, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Bush, left, spends a moment with his brother and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, prior to the President's speech on Social Security at the Pensacola Junior College, Friday, March 18, 2005, in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)
President George Bush chats with brother Gov. Jeb Bush as they acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, right, gestures as his brother Florida's governor-elect Jeb Bush looks on during a joint news conference in New Orleans Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1998. The Bush brothers are attending the Republican Governors Association meeting which runs through Friday. A flood of media requests to interview the Texas governor and the Florida governor-elect prompted the sons of former President Bush to schedule a news conference Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, hugs his brother, President Bush, left, after introducing him at a campaign rally at Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Fla., Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Bush jokes with his brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, in Pensacola, Fla., where Bush was drumming up support for local Republican candidates. (AP Photo/Mari Darr~Welch)
Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, center, is joined by his sons, former U.S. President George W. Bush, left, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as he speaks to reporters after his parachute jump with the Army Golden Knights parachute team to celebrate his 85th birthday, Friday, June 12, 2009, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
President Bush greets his brother,former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and Jeb's son, George P. Bush, left, as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
President George H. W. Bush, left, with his son former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, enters the West Wing of the White House to meet with President Barack Obama Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President George W. Bush, left, smiles while being introduced by his brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, at the Florida Victory 2004 rally on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
This photo taken Feb. 15, 2011, show former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush greeting his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, at the White House's 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in Washington, where her husband, former President George H.W. Bush is to receive the Medal. Jeb Bush has already heard his mother, Barbara, tell everyone “we’ve had enough Bushes” in the White House. In the lead-up to 2016 presidential campaign, the former Florida governor says he’s in his 60s and doesn’t have to do everything his mom says. “I'm trying to avoid the family conversation,” he said. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
 In this Oct. 22, 2002, file photo former first lady Barbara Bush makes a point as she campaigns for her son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. Amid the celebration surrounding the opening of son George W. Bush's presidential library, Barbara Bush is brushing aside talk of her son Jeb running for president in 2016. When asked how she felt about it she told NBC's "Today" show, Thursday, April 25, 2013, "We've had enough Bushes." (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, reaches out to grab his brother President George W. Bush before a speech Friday morning March 8, 2002 at America II Electronics in St. Petersburg, Fla. In the his remarks, Bush said he does not know whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive but cautioned Americans against judging the success of the war on the fate of the terrorist mastermind. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former first lady Barbara Bush laughs with her son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, during a campaign stop in Ellenton, Fla., Monday, Oct. 30, 2000. The two were campaigning for another of her sons, Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush jokes with his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, during a bus ride to a rally at Florida International University in Miami, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 5, 2000. At left is New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
Texas Republican Gov. George W. Bush, right, and Florida's Governor-elect, Jeb Bush, answer questions at a news conference in New Orleans Wednesday Nov. 18, 1998. A flood of media requests to interview the Texas governor and the Florida governor-elect prompted the sons of former President Bush to schedule a news conference. The governors are attending the Republican Governors Association. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Florida Gov.-elect Jeb Bush, left, laughs during a joint news conference in New Orleans Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1998, with his brother Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The Bush brothers are attending the Republican Governors Association meeting which runs through Friday. A flood of media requests to interview the Texas governor and the Florida governor-elect prompted the sons of former President Bush to schedule a joint news conference. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Former President George Bush, right, clenches his fist Sept.16, 1994 as he hugs son, Jeb during a Florida GOP fund-raiser in Tampa. After a hiatus, Bush has been hitting the campaign trail and lecture circuit with a vengence, raising millions for Republican candidates and getting digs in at President Bill Clinton along the way. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former President George H. W. Bush, right, and son Jeb Bush chat with recruits at the Pinellas County jail's boot camp in St. Petersburg. FL., March 28, 1994. Jeb Bush, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, was on a campaign swing with his father. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
Cheerleaders shout their encouragement as Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeb Bush and former President George Bush applauds Barbara Bush, center, during her address to a rally on Oct. 10, 1994 at Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida. Jeb Bush is running for governor against incumbent Democrat Gov. Lawton Chiles. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
President George H. W. Bush talks with his son Jeb, during a round of golf at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport ME., Aug. 27, 1990. The president is scheduled to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney Monday, at his Walker's Point home. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (R) reaches out to shake hands with his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (L) shortly after Air Force One arrived at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 09 May 2006. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (L) looks on as his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks 19 April, 2006. Governor Bush was among several governors who met with the president after an Easter trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George Bush (left) and brother Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 19: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) smile while greeting supporters during a campaign rally at Progress Energy Park October 19, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Recent polls indicate Bush is maintaining a slight lead over his Democratic challenger U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Jeb Bush is seen at Salt Lake City Airport on January 22, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by JOCE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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Clinton and her husband, Bill, the former president, earned more than $25 million for delivering 104 speeches since the beginning of 2014, her organization said in May.

"I made less than Chelsea Clinton," Bush said, referring to the reported $65,000 speaking fee of the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea.

The tax records released covered nearly his entire business career, including his long-time involvement in Miami real estate.

Using a common tax burden measure, Bush and his wife Columba paid an effective tax rate, based on their taxable income, in 2013 of 40.5 percent. Based on adjusted gross income, before itemized deductions, their effective tax rate was 40.3 percent.

While that rate is high, compared to some other wealthy politicians such as Mitt Romney, it is worth noting that Bush has written off substantial pre-tax business expenses from 2007 to 2013, reducing the income used in calculating effective tax rate.

"He's revealing in this that he's going to be transparent," said Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican strategist. "It's an invitation to the Clintons to open the books."

SPEAKING FEES

In each of 2011, 2012 and 2013, Bush has written off more than $1 million each in business expenses. Over the seven year period, he has deducted roughly 20 percent of his business income in expenses. Had those expenses all been considered part of his taxable income, his effective tax rates would be lower.

Bush's tax records show that speaking fees have been a major part of his income. He said his fees have ranged from $40,000 in the United States to up to $75,000 per speech abroad.

From 2007 through 2013, he grossed $24.6 million in fees and used that business to write off $6.7 million in expenses, including contributions of $2.4 million to his own pension and profit sharing funds.

Over those years, he became a successful investor and a savvy tax filer. He and his tax preparer were aggressive about capturing investment losses through the credit crisis and thereafter. For example, in 2009, the market bottom following the crisis, he claimed $97,079 in capital losses that have allowed him to reduce his taxes that year and subsequent years.

Bush's investments in so-called passive activity, such as real estate and investment partnerships has grown substantially. In 2008, he declared $590 in income in real estate and partnerships; in 2013, he claimed $679,526 in real estate and partnership income.

Bush has earned most of his money since 2007 through Jeb Bush & Associates, a consulting firm, and by forming, with three partners, a company called Britton Hills, which has focused on a few growth-capital investments.

Bush made an average of $1.3 million per year over two years in working as a consultant for Lehman Brothers before the firm went bankrupt during the 2008 financial crisis. His brother was president at the time.

For the past several years, Bush has held shares in private funds founded – and in some cases managed – by relatives. As early as 2001, Bush was earning money from investments in the Winston Capital Fund, managed by his brother Marvin Bush.

More recently, beginning in 2007, Jeb Bush bought shares in several funds issued by a Texas-based real estate investment company co-founded by his son George P. Bush that is now known as Pennybacker Capital which buys office buildings, retail properties and apartments that are in disrepair and renovates them to increase their potential returns through higher rents.

George P. Bush left the company to become Texas Land Commissioner, a position to which he was elected in 2014.

(Additional reporting by Emily Flitter in New York and Alex Wilts in Washington and Howard Schneider; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Doina Chiacu, Grant McCool)

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