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What do Baltimore mayoral candidates’ tax returns show?

With two months to go before Baltimore’s mayoral primary, roughly half the major Democratic candidates have yet to release their tax returns.

Former Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah was the first in this election cycle to release his tax returns to the press, challenging others to do the same.

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City Council President Brandon Scott previously released five years of tax returns when he ran as lawyer Jim Shea’s running mate in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon and state Sen. Mary Washington have also released their tax returns.

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As of Friday, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith and former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller have not. But their campaigns have all pledged to release the returns before voting begins in the April 28 election.

Former Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a scheme involving the fraudulent sale of children’s books and tax evasion.

In light of that, the Vignarajah campaign said it was renewing its call for all candidates to release their tax returns. The former prosecutor changed the display language on his prominent billboards Friday to say: “Want to be mayor? Release your taxes.”

Smith dismissed the message. “I’m not on Thiru’s schedule,” he said, adding that his documents would be available before early voting begins in April.

What the returns show

Scott’s tax returns from 2012 to 2017 show his salary as a city council member, which grew steadily each year. He earned a big raise when he took over as council president after the political shuffle after Pugh’s resignation. Scott’s salary for this year is roughly $125,000.

Scott, who at age 35 says generational change in leadership is needed, takes a student loan interest deduction, his tax returns show.

Dixon’s most recent return shows she was paid about $103,000 for consulting. She is the marketing director for the Maryland Minority Contractors Association in Baltimore.

Washington made about $60,000, combined, from her jobs as a state legislator and as an adjunct faculty member at Maryland Institute College of Art, according to her 2018 tax return.

Vignarajah’s latest return shows he earned roughly $400,000 as a partner with the DLA Piper law firm. In past years, he also taught as an adjunct faculty at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins, the University of Baltimore Law School, and the University of Maryland Law School.

As mayor, Young will earn nearly $190,000 this year.

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