Not many candidates for high office volunteer their tax returns. Today the only candidate formally in the governor’s race released his. Former Ambassador Phil Murphy’s been dodging the moniker Corzine 2.0. NJTV News Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron’s been locked in a room for hours pouring over Murphy’s documents. He spoke about it with Anchor Mary Alice Williams.
Williams: How does Murphy’s return contrast with former Gov. [Jon] Corzine’s?
Aron: Well, it’s hard to know because you don’t get net wealth in a tax return. You get annual income. Murphy released five years worth. He made roughly $6 million in the most recent year he released — 2014; $6.4 million was his adjusted gross income. His taxable income after deductions, it was $4.5 million. He paid federal and state taxes of $2.2 million or 34 percent. And both directly and through his family foundation, he gave 24 percent of his income to charity. And he was much more transparent about everything. Corzine resisted releasing his tax returns, used to say that Goldman Sachs was a partnership. He didn’t want to compromise his partners. Apparently Goldman Sachs became a company around 1999 and that concern doesn’t exist any more.
Williams: What about property taxes? How much did he pay in that?
Aron: Well he has, I’m told, a beautiful home in Middletown. He paid $200,401 on that piece of property, on that home. He has two other homes — one in Italy on which he only paid $13,000 and one in Berlin on which he only paid $4,000 because he prepaid some of the property taxes when he purchased that home.
Williams: How complex are the tax returns of a very wealthy person?
Aron: I couldn’t believe what I was looking at today. First of all, the campaign took a room at the Hilton across from Penn Station here in Newark. Four reporters showed. Five years worth of tax returns were made available to us — 2010 through 2014. He’s seeking an extension on his 2015 taxes. But the 2014 filing was 318 pages. It was an inch and a half thick. Sometimes you hear a political candidate say, “I’m going to make the tax codes simple. I’m going to reduce it to a postcard. This was 318 pages of just incredible amounts of data.
Williams: There were two investments of note. One had the word “Nude” in it?
Aron: Yes, that one jumped out at me, I must say. First of all, there were hundreds and hundreds of company names because every fund he’s invested in has lots of investments that all got listed on this return. One of the hundreds and hundreds was called Nude Holdco of Australia. And right below it was Nude Bidco of Australia and this caused my eyebrows to go up. I asked the campaign what is this? They said, “We don’t know.” They made some phone calls, they came back and said that it is a cosmetics company in Australia called Nude By Nature.
Williams: And very quickly the other was in Sky Blue, the women’s soccer team.
Aron: Phil Murphy has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in this losing proposition. He knew it was going to be a losing proposition, we were told, but he did it so that his daughter, who plays soccer, could see that women can play soccer at the professional level as well.
Williams: Michael Aron, thank you.
Aron: Thanks Mary Alice.