Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) found himself in a strange predicament after he revealed he was a millionaire amid questions about his unreleased tax returns.
Because President Donald Trump chose not to release his tax returns during his 2016 presidential bid, many Democrats demanded the tax returns of all the 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Sanders who has yet to release his returns.
One reason he may have delayed his tax return release is that he is now a millionaire. As a self-described democratic socialist, this puts him in an awkward position because he has been a longtime critic of the wealthiest Americans.
Although it isn’t yet clear how many millions Sanders has, even a flat $1 million would put him well above the threshold of the wealthiest one percent — which includes any family earning over $421,926.
This juxtaposition forced Sanders to defend his wealth, most of which he claims came from his book sales. During a campaign speech in Gary, Indiana, Sanders tried to joke that he “didn’t know that it was a crime” to make millions.
Bernie Sanders speaks in Gary, IN: "I didn't know that it was a crime to write a good book, which turned out to be a best seller." pic.twitter.com/vbfWjE0jCr
— The Hill (@thehill) April 13, 2019
“I didn’t know that it was a crime to write a good book, which turned out to be a best seller. My view has always been that we need a progressive tax system which demands that the wealthiest people in this country finally start paying their fair share of taxes. If I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money. That is what I believe. I don’t apologize for writing a book that was number three on the New York Times bestseller, that was translated five or six times.”
This caught some off guard, given Sanders’ distaste for millionaires in the past. Several took to Twitter to question Sanders’ criticisms of capitalism — a system he clearly benefitted from.
"I didn't know it was a crime to work hard, own a business, and employee a bunch of people but Bernie Sanders always make me sound like one."-An awful lot of successful people. https://t.co/rBDj3CkGVQ
— Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) April 13, 2019
Bernie having a bit of trouble explaining his wealth, it would seem.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) April 13, 2019
It's not. And we want to make sure it stays that way, which is why you can't be president. https://t.co/277WEnzE8n
— Jon Miller (@MillerStream) April 13, 2019
While Sanders did note that he believes he and his wealthy friends should pay more in taxes, his reluctance to release his tax documents leaves many questions in the air as to how much he paid into the system, given his newfound bestseller wealth.
The 2020 Democratic primary hopeful promised to release his tax returns sometime in the coming week.