Bernie Sanders Donated Less Than One Percent To Charity First Year He Made Over $1 Million

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Andrew Kerr Investigative Reporter
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Vermont Sen. and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s charitable contributions fell far under the average for his income bracket the first year he reported earning more than $1 million.

Sanders released 10 years of tax returns Monday, revealing that he earned an average of $280,975 per year from 2009 through 2015, and that his income skyrocketed to $1,062,626 in 2016 due to sales of his best-selling book, “Our Revolution.”

Sanders reported $10,600 in charitable contributions in 2016, making up slightly less than one percent of his reported income and falling under the $21,365 average charitable contribution for Americans who earned $250,000 or more that year, according to the latest available IRS data.

The self-avowed Democratic-socialist purchased his third home in 2016 — a $575,000 lake-front property in Vermont, according to Fox News.

U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

The following year, Sanders donated $36,300 of his adjusted gross income of $1,131,925 to charity. (RELATED: Sanders Releases 10 Years Of Tax Returns, Confirming His Millionaire Status)

Year Adjusted Gross Income Charitable Gifts Percent to Charity
2018 $561,293 $18,950 3.38%
2017 $1,131,925 $36,300 3.21%
2016 $1,062,626 $10,600 1.00%
2015 $240,610 $6,150 2.56%
2014 $205,271 $8,350 4.07%
2013 $278,779 $6,800 2.44%
2012 $280,954 $1,900 0.68%
2011 $324,870 $5,500 1.69%
2010 $321,596 $5,750 1.79%
2009 $314,742 $6,050 1.92%

From 2009 through 2015, when Sanders was earning on average $280,975 per year, he contributed 2.06 percent to charity.

His charitable giving rose slightly to 2.39 percent of his income from 2016 through 2018, when his average income soared to $918,615 per year.

“My wife and I do give money to charity, and we’re proud to do what we did,” Sanders said at a Fox News town hall Monday.


A campaign spokesperson for Sanders said in a statement to the Daily Beast that while the senator believes voluntary charitable donations are commendable, they can’t make up government investment in social programs, which his platform calls for.

“Over the last decade, Bernie and Jane Sanders have donated more than $100,000 to charity. Their overall charitable giving rates have been roughly in line with the average rates in America as a whole,” Sanders’s campaign spokeswoman Arianna Jones said.

“In some years, they gave more than 3 or 4 percent of their income to charity. They have given to senior centers, low-income organizations, educational entities, and environmental and housing advocacy groups. They also believe that while voluntary charitable donations are commendable, they can never replace ongoing public investments in major social programs and services that improve people’s lives.”

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