The Clinton Tax Returns: What Will They Reveal?

An ABC News Review Has Found the Clintons Have Made More Than $50 Million Since Leaving the White House


April 3, 2008—

Hillary Clinton has been pulling out all the stops to win the Democratic nomination for president -- but one: she still has not released her family's tax returns.

The campaign says they will release the documents sometime before April 15. Without them, many questions remain about how the Clintons made tens of millions of dollars -- and whether they used arcane tax loopholes available to the super-rich, an expert says. A Clinton campaign spokesman says the couple has paid all U.S. taxes at ordinary income tax rates.

An independent review by ABC News has found that since leaving the White House seven years ago, the senator and her former president husband have made well over $50 million, much of it from paid speeches made by Bill Clinton.

A review of Sen. Clinton's annual ethics filings found that her husband has earned $47 million in fees from more than 280 speeches he has made around the world.

Clinton's biggest patrons include New York-based investment firm Goldman Sachs, which paid him $650,000 for four speeches in recent years, and two foreign firms. Gold Services International, a Colombian-based event organizer, brought Clinton to Latin America in 2005 for four days of speeches, earning Clinton $800,000. Another company, Toronto-based Power Within, paid Clinton $650,000 for a series of motivational speeches in Canada in 2005.

Aides to the former president have said that his paid speeches are an efficient way for him to make money and devote more of his time to charitable work.

The annual disclosures do not require Sen. Clinton to fully report her husband's income, which obscures the picture of how much the former president has made in his business dealings with longtime friends and fundraisers.

Read Sen. Clinton's latest disclosure form.

For example, an examination of the records reveals her husband is a partner in an investment fund, Yucaipa Global Partnership, registered in the Cayman Islands, and was paid "guaranteed payments to partner." Sen. Clinton's forms do not list the exact amount of her husband's payments, only that they totaled more than $1,000 over four years.

"No average person has interest and funds in the Cayman Islands. This is all the above-average, non-tax-paying, super rich," said Jack Blum, an attorney and leading expert on offshore tax havens.

Jay Carson, a spokesperson for Sen. Clinton's presidential campaign, said the Yucaipa global fund was organized in the Cayman Islands to attract foreign investors. "Each investor or partner in the fund pays the taxes they owe in their home country. For U.S. citizens like Bill Clinton, that means he pays U.S. taxes on his income from this fund, which he does," said Carson.

The exact amount he has made from his involvement in the fund remains undisclosed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the former president stands to receive a payout of around $20 million for his role as an adviser to billionairel Ron Burkle's investment funds.

Sen. Clinton's presidential campaign disputes that figure. "Contrary to published reports, neither the level of his compensation for his advisory role, nor the value of his partnership share in the Yucaipa Global Fund upon his exit, has been determined," Carson said.

Bill Clinton has also faced scrutiny for his business dealings with friend and fundraiser Vinod Gupta, who has reportedly paid him undisclosed consulting fees and provided him use of his corporate jet.

Shareholders in Gupta's data collection company filed a lawsuit in 2007 accusing Gupta of using the company's resources to ingratiate himself with Clinton and other personal friends.

A court later dismissed the lawsuit. Gupta has said it was a legitimate business expense to hire Clinton. Contacted by phone Wednesday, a lawyer for Gupta declined to disclose the amount his client had paid Clinton.

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