Menendez releases tax returns

NEW BRUNSWICK – U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) reported taking home between about $150,600 and $171,800 from 2007 through last year, according to the federal lawmaker’s tax returns released today.

The Menendez campaign released five years worth of tax returns Thursday showing the lawmaker drew his income from his salary as a U.S. senator and received additional income from rental property, according to the returns.

Menendez netted $171,874 in 2011 and paid 21.4 percent in federal taxes and 5.2 percent in state taxes. He paid nearly $37,000 in federal taxes and more than $9,800 in state taxes in 2011, according to the documents.

Menendez earns $174,000 as U.S. senator — before taxes. He took home $156,250 from his salary and $15,282 from his Union City five-family apartment.

“Sen. Menendez is gladly making this information available to members of the media,” Menendez spokesman Paul Brubaker said in a statement.

“It helps the senator maintain a high-level of transparency with New Jersey’s residents and families,” he said. “But these documents are also a classic, what-you-see-is what-get study of Bob Menendez.”

Menendez’s Republican challenger, state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, made his last three year’s worth of returns available to the media late last week.

Kyrillos, a commercial real estate broker, earned $437,500 in 2011 along with his wife, Susan, who works as an insurance and business consultant.

The Menendez camp was critical of Kyrillos, who they say left many unanswered questions following the release of his returns. They criticized Kyrillos for not detailing exactly where his income was earned.

“They have prompted more questions than they’ve answered,” Brubaker said. “We haven’t seen the fine print details.”

Brubaker argued Kyrillos failed to achieve “that level of disclosure” made apparent by Menendez’s returns.

In response, Kyrillos’ campaign released a statement calling into question “the notion that Senator Menendez is ‘on par’ with New Jersey’s middle class by ranking ‘near the very bottom of the list of United States Senators’ based on income.”

The campaign accused Menendez of living the “high life” during his more than four decades in public office. The statement listed the top five items reporters wouldn’t expect to see on the senator’s tax returns, including “$8,039,608 in special interest campaign cash; $1,400,000 from his Wall Street Banker pals; … and $98,983 on private jets and airfare” during his 2006 and 2012 election cycles.

“Bob Menendez must be living in an alternate universe to believe that flying around on private jets and sipping champagne poolside at the Biltmore Hotel makes him a middle class guy,” said Kyrillos spokesman Chapin Fay in the release. “Senator Menendez may be shocked to learn this, but people who do not live in Washington actually have to work for a living.”

In 2007, Menendez earned $150,622; the senator took home $158,983 in 2008; $160,911 in 2009 and $169,035 in 2010, according to the returns. Menendez releases tax returns