August 2, 2012 in Idaho

Congressional candidate releases 10 years’ tax returns

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Betsy Russell photo

Idaho congressional candidate Jimmy Farris speaks at a news conference in Meridian on Aug. 2, 2012
(Full-size photo)

MERIDIAN, Idaho - Idaho 1st District U.S. House candidate Jimmy Farris released 10 years of his income tax returns today and called on incumbent Congressman Raul Labrador to do the same.

Labrador immediately rebuffed the request. “He just said, ‘No comment,’ ” said Labrador’s campaign spokeswoman, China Gum.

Farris, at a news conference in downtown Meridian, declared, “In the spirit of George Romney and Frank Church, I think it’s important that our elected officials show the utmost amount of transparency.”

Romney, father of current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, famously released 12 years of his tax returns when he was running for president in 1967.

Longtime Idaho Sen. Frank Church released his tax returns not only when he ran for president in 1976 but throughout his many years in the Senate. His widow, Bethine Church, recalled today, “His colleagues got sort of mad at him over it, because it put the pressure on them. … He just thought it was fair that people know where his money was coming from. … He said it was important to have his integrity.”

Farris, a former NFL football player and Lewiston native, released tax returns from 2001 to 2010 that cover the entire arc of his professional football career, from his rookie year with the New England Patriots in 2001 when his wages were $70,020, to his peak earning year with the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, when he earned more than $350,000.

A Spokesman-Review analysis of his returns shows he paid more than $73,000 in taxes in 2004, 21 percent of his earnings that year, and donated $62,443 to charity, nearly 18 percent of his income.

Over the 10 years, the analysis showed, he donated $204,526 to charity, mainly through church programs; in 2006, he gave nearly a quarter of his income to charity.

“One of the reasons why I’m running is because of the importance of giving back and paying it forward and doing what I can to help people,” Farris said. “One of the things you’ll see in my tax returns is a significant amount of charitable contributions that I’ve made. They are in line with what I’ve said before, that I really, really value helping out and giving a hand to people.”

Farris’ returns show that his earnings declined slowly from the 2004 peak to 2007, when he earned just under $150,000, and then fell to just over $60,000 in 2008 and 2009, as he moved from his playing career into broadcasting work.

He paid between 15.4 percent and 22 percent of his wages in federal income taxes from 2001 to 2005; that dropped to between 6.6 percent and 10.4 percent from 2006 to 2009 as his income declined. In 2010, he had less than $10,000 in income and paid no federal income taxes, like nearly half of Americans, but he made $1,500 in charitable contributions, 16 percent of his income.

By that point, Farris said, he was living off his savings as he moved back to Idaho. “I did a pretty good job of saving my money,” he said, adding that his NFL teammates “used to tease me about being pretty frugal.”

Said Farris, “I think my financial history would prove that I’ve been somebody that’s been more than willing to pay my fair share of taxes, give above and beyond, to try to help people and do what I thought was right with my money.”

Labrador, who is a former Idaho state legislator and worked as an immigration attorney before he was elected to Congress in 2010, has filed required financial disclosure forms that show he’s the least wealthy member of Idaho’s congressional delegation and still is paying off his student loans.


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