The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s reported annual income has nearly doubled since his first campaign for the presidency four years ago, according to tax returns made public Tuesday by the Jackson campaign.
Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, earned $209,358 last year, nearly all of it in salary from a family corporation and fees for his speaking appearances, up from $115,000 in 1983, the returns showed.
Jackson had claimed in a national television interview less than three weeks ago that his annual income remained only "$100,000-plus.” But the returns he finally released Tuesday show that his earnings have hovered near $200,000 for the last three years.
The Jacksons’ total reported annual income, which had plunged to $59,453 in 1984, when he spent most of his time campaigning for the presidency, jumped to $187,839 in 1985 and rose to $186,043 in 1986.
Gap Held Not Significant
A top adviser to Jackson, Frank Watkins, argued that the discrepancy between the income cited by Jackson in the interview and that shown in the records released Tuesday was of little significance.
“I don’t think he sits up nights and studies his income tax so he might not have known precisely the amount,” Watkins said. “He was making an educated guess.”
Jackson’s campaign manager, Gerald F. Austin, said in an interview earlier that Jackson “doesn’t worry about those things.” Just as Jackson entrusted Austin with responsibility for the campaign’s finances, the campaign manager argued, so he leaves the family finances to his wife.
In the interview, which was broadcast April 15, Jackson insisted under questioning by ABC’s Barbara Walters that his income remained near $100,000, “not plus a lot more.” He then acknowledged, however, that he had received an advance for an autobiography scheduled to be published this year and suggested that the advance might “swell” his 1987 income.
Book Advance Unseen
The tax returns released Tuesday, however, showed no direct evidence of that book advance, which Jackson had previously told reporters would total $350,000.
Watkins said Tuesday that the advance had in fact totaled only $50,000 and was paid directly to Personalities International Inc., the corporation established by the Jackson family in 1984. Watkins said the advance was passed on to Jackson as part of the $159,000 salary he received from the company in 1987.
Jackson was paid $148,590 in 1986 and $135,775 in 1985 by Personalities International, which is run by his wife and governed by a board of directors composed of two of his children. The company was founded to provide management services for artists and public figures but it has principally served to arrange and collect fees for Jackson’s own speaking and writing engagements.
Jackson’s tax returns also show a sharp fluctuation in the dividend income he received from his most valuable personal investment, an estimated $250,000 stake in ICBC Inc., a New York-based inner-city broadcasting company. He earned $13,633 in dividends from ICBC in 1986, but in 1984, 1985 and again last year he reported no ICBC dividend income.
Public Records Disagreed
The subject of Jackson’s tax returns had been an apparent sore point for weeks as reporters noted that public records, including a financial disclosure report provided last October to the Federal Election Commission, placed his income at far more than $100,000.
Jackson repeatedly promised to release the returns “within a few days,” and at a tense moment in a news conference in Pennsylvania two weeks ago he pledged to release his returns “as I have every year for the past 20 years.” Jackson had not made his tax returns public since 1983.
The returns released Tuesday showed that Jackson paid $12,103 in taxes in 1984, 20% of his total income; but paid $50,809 in 1985, 28% of the total; $53,103 in 1986, or 29%, and $53,019 last year, or 25%.
By comparison, Vice President George Bush, the certain Republican presidential nominee, last year paid $86,684, or 28%, of his $308,396 in income, which was nearly $100,000 greater than Jackson’s.
Gov. Michael S. Dukakis has not yet released his 1987 tax returns. His 1986 returns show that he and his wife earned $87,714.
FO(Southland Edition)Rev. Jesse Jackson shakes hands at senior citizens center in Washington, site of Tuesday primary.