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Wealthy Dem Running For Colorado Governor Won’t Confirm If He’s Paid Income Taxes As Congressman

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Andrew Kerr Investigative Reporter
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  • Five-term Democratic Rep. Jared Polis’ estimated net worth nearly doubled to $314 million since his election to Congress.
  • Polis, who’s running for Colorado governor, refused to say whether he paid federal income taxes since becoming a congressional representative in 2009.
  • Polis paid no federal income taxes from 2001 to 2005, according to tax returns he released in 2008.

Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis, the second wealthiest member in Congress, won’t say whether he has paid federal income taxes as a sitting congressman.

Polis earned his fortune as an internet entrepreneur during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, and his net worth has nearly doubled since he was elected to Congress. The five-term Democrat’s estimated net worth exploded from $176 million in 2009 to $314 million in 2015, according to financial disclosures reviewed by the Center for Responsible Politics.

And recent reports have suggested that it’s possible Polis hasn’t paid income taxes during his nearly 10-year stint in Washington.

Polis pumped millions from his personal wealth into his successful elections to the Colorado State Board of Education and the 2nd Congressional District, and critics say he’s using his fortune to buy the governor’s seat. He’s already spent $18 million on his gubernatorial bid.

Questions of Polis paying income taxes arose during his 2008 run for Congress after he released seven years of tax returns, which revealed that he paid no federal income taxes during a from 2001 to 2005. In the remaining three years, Polis reported an income tax bill of $18.4 million on more than $120 million in adjusted gross income.

Polis addressed why he paid no federal income taxes during the early 2000s at a primary debate in May.

“I paid a heck of a lot of taxes in the years I made money,” he said. “When you don’t make money, you can’t pay taxes, and since I’ve been in public service, my expenses have been greater than my income, and that’s simply the fact, and I think that’s, you know, completely appropriate.”

CBS4 reporter Shaun Boyd said Tuesday that Polis’ claim that his expenditures have exceeded his income since entering public service was “revealing.”

“If Polis’s expenses have been greater than his income since he entered public office, which is what he said, that would mean he hasn’t paid income tax for far more than five years,” Boyd reported.

An ad released by the Republican Governors Association said the Democrat “didn’t pay income taxes, but he wants to raise yours.” Polis introduced legislation in May that would repeal the Republican tax cuts signed into law in 2017.

Polis called the ad “intentionally false and misleading” and asked TV stations to stop airing it. But he avoided answering whether he paid income taxes every year since his election to Congress.

“No one has ever accused me of not paying my taxes. I’ve paid every penny I’ve owed in taxes,” Polis told reporters Tuesday.

The Polis campaign did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment. His campaign has refused to release Polis’ tax returns, which would show whether the Democrat has paid income taxes.

Polis said Tuesday he will only consider releasing his tax returns if his Republican opponent, Walker Stapleton, releases his. (RELATED: Bush Cousin To Face House Democrat In Battle For Colorado Governor)

“I’ve released seven years of taxes, and we’re waiting for Walker Stapleton to release any of his taxes,” he told reporters. “I hope he releases his — and his trust taxes — and, of course, after he releases some, we’ll be happy to talk about releasing more. But before I ran for office, I was proud to release seven years of taxes.”

Stapleton previously denounced calls to release his finances as “stupid and dumb,” saying only his “political enemies” are interested in seeing them.

Stapleton’s communications manager, Jerrod Dobkin, said it’s up to Polis to address questions surrounding his taxes.

“When Jared Polis was first elected, his net worth was $160 million. And after serving a decade in Congress, his net worth is now estimated to be $312 million,” Dobkin told The Colorado Springs Gazette Tuesday. “It’s up to Jared Polis and Jared Polis alone to explain why he didn’t pay taxes for years.”

The Stapleton campaign declined to comment when TheDCNF asked if it plans to release Stapleton’s tax returns.

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