WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
As he has done every year since becoming mayor, Michael Bloomberg permitted reporters to review a heavily redacted draft of his federal and state tax returns on Friday. But the forms didn’t show dollar amounts, instead there were letters.
The letters A through G symbolize dollar amounts, with G symbolic of the highest amount ― a half million dollars or more.
Almost every entry on Bloomberg’s 1040 is a G. Stu Loeser, the mayor's chief spokesman, said releasing any more details, including what the mayor' actually pays, would compromise Bloomberg LP's strategic plans.
"He pays at the 35 percent bracket, and the effective tax rate that he pays before his charitable donations ― which are very significant, he is one of the most generous philanthropists in the country ― is 34.69 percent," Loeser told reporters. Last year Mayor Bloomberg donated more than $311 million dollars to almost 1,200 organizations.
There is no legal requirement that the mayor disclose what he pays in taxes.
Forbes reports that over the last decade Michael Bloomberg's net worth grew from around $5 billion to $22 billion. Forbes Magazine lists him as the 11th richest man in the nation.
The tax form disclosure coincides with the mayor's release of his latest City Conflict Of Interest disclosure form.
Several of the subsidiaries listed on Bloomberg’s disclosure form are based in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Jersey, off the coast of Britain, that are known as off shore tax havens.
In a statement, Bloomberg’s accountants said, "none of these non-US entities are used to shift Bloomberg profits to reduce or avoid tax liabilities, nor does Bloomberg shift profits to lower-tax jurisdictions within the United States."
Loeser used the annual disclosure ritual to remind reporters that the mayor believes the only way to get the federal government out of the red is to repeal all of the Bush era tax cuts.
The release of the mayor’s documents offer a rare glimpse into his privately held global media empire. Since Bloomberg came into office, according to the disclosure forms, the number of his companies and subsidiaries has grown from around 50 to closer to a hundred. Some of the most recent additions are the result of Bloomberg LP's near billion dollar purchase of BNA, the legal research and public affairs publisher.
Loeser said the mayor is not running Bloomberg LP but still keeps a hand in it.
"Per the conflict of interest board, he is to be involved in large decisions, strategic decisions consistent with any majority owner of any company," Loeser said.