Kerry's wife had income of $5 million last tax year

Campaign says she paid $587,000 in federal taxes

May 12, 2004|By Ralph Vartabedian | Ralph Vartabedian,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Sen. John F. Kerry, said yesterday that she had income of $5.1 million in 2003, more than 10 times what her husband earned but well below what many outsiders had expected.

Heinz Kerry had insisted as recently as three weeks ago that her family income was her personal business and she would not release her tax returns. As the wife of the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, she has faced pressure to release the information, and she now has taken a partial step in that direction.

The Kerry campaign released a statement saying Heinz Kerry had obtained an extension for her 2003 return and would release the first two pages of her 1040 form when it was ready in October.

But the campaign provided preliminary figures showing Heinz Kerry had taxable interest and dividends of $2.3 million and tax-exempt bond income of $2.8 million. She paid $750,000 in federal, state and local income taxes, as well as a $280,000 prepayment for both tax years 2003 and 2004.

Heinz Kerry paid $587,000 in federal income tax, which represents 11.5 percent of her total income, a rate that is significantly lower than her husband's or President Bush's.

The campaign said she had a tax rate of 32 percent, but its calculation did not include her tax-exempt income and did include state and local taxes.

Since much of her income came from dividends, Heinz Kerry benefited from a tax cut on dividends sponsored by Bush.

The couple, who married in 1995, file separate tax returns, she said yesterday.

In addition to her personal income, Heinz controls or helps to oversee several charitable foundations and endowments, which distributed $4.6 million in grants in 2003. They include the Heinz Family Foundation, which is funded by a charitable trust.

With an estimated personal fortune of $500 million, Heinz Kerry also controls various family trusts that are apparently paying taxable income to her three children, experts said. Heinz Kerry's personal financial managers have answered few questions about the trusts.

In her Tuesday announcement, Heinz Kerry said the new information "strikes a balance between my family's privacy and the media's requests for more financial information."

Heinz Kerry inherited her fortune from her late husband, Sen. John Heinz, a Pennsylvania Republican, who died in a 1991 airplane crash. He was the sole heir to the Heinz food fortune.

Kerry released his tax return two weeks ago, reporting $395,338 in taxable income.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush reported taxable income in 2003 of $727,083, the White House said April 14.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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