State senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey has released the two-page cover sheets for five years worth of income tax returns, saying that he wants to take the "issue off the table" as the general election draws closer.
Bailey's farm in downstate Xenia spans more than 12,000 acres, and he owns a trucking and excavation business with his sons.
Some estimates have pegged the senator’s net income at more than $5 million.
In an interview with NBC 5, Bailey was asked about his millionaire status, in light of his criticism of former Gov. Bruce Rauner and current Gov. J.B. Pritzker's wealth, and he says that his financial situation is markedly different.
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"Everything I have is tied up in this farm, tied up in the land," he said. "Everything I have, you're looking at it. It's tied up right here."
A third generation-farmer, Bailey has been asked for months to release his taxes, including during the Republican primary, and he had declined to do so until now.
“I don’t think that someone’s taxes make them a qualifier for a political office, but here’s the deal, I’m moving on, because we’re going to win this thing and we’re going to win it big, so I’m wiling to get one of these issues off the table," he said when asked about his change of heart.
Bailey provided NBC 5 with a copy of the two-page income tax cover sheets for his last five years worth of returns.
According to those documents, his Adjusted Gross Income in 2017 was $1,776. The following year, it increased to $211,000. In 2019, it declined slightly to $189,000.
Amid the COVID pandemic, Bailey reported a loss of $164,000, while in 2021 he reported a loss of $99,000.
Bailey cited the purchase of new equipment for businesses for reported losses of income.
During those two years, ProPublica reported that Bailey received more than $570,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans, and the Chicago Tribune reported that he received $280,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"The people will know when they see these that I am truly one of them," Bailey said. "I'm not living in this billionaire bubble like J.B. Pritzker.
Pritzker is worth an estimated $3.6 billion. His 2020 AGI was $5.1 million, with $2.2 million worth of income qualifying as taxable income. Pritzker paid $760,000 in income taxes that year, and donated another $2.8 million to charity.
NBC 5 has only obtained two-page cover sheets for both candidates, not full tax returns.
Pritzker's net worth has been a common front of attack for Bailey and other Republicans, and he says with the release of tax information, he is hoping to solidify his image as a downstate farmer looking to take on more monied interests.
"I am proud to be an American farmer," he said. "To the question 'are you a millionaire farmer,' it has to do each and every day with land prices, equipment prices and those fluctuate drastically."