DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad’s personal income declined for a second consecutive year, thanks mostly to a reduction in pension benefits, his staff said Friday with the release of the governor’s 2015 tax records.
Branstad, who releases his tax records each year, and his wife, Chris, made $185,249 in gross income in 2015, down from just more than $191,311 in 2014 and $226,728 in 2013.
The majority of that income came from Gov. Branstad’s salary of $127,734. His 2015 salary was just below the national average, according to the Council of State Governments, which tracks gubernatorial salaries.
Branstad in 2015 also received $48,984 from his state pension, down from $54,980 the previous year.
Despite another income dip, the Branstads increased their charitable contributions in 2015, giving $31,475, or nearly 17 percent of their gross income. That’s up from $28,822 in 2014.
“What’s clear from his tax return once again this year is the governor’s commitment to giving,” Michael Bousselot, the governor’s chief of staff, told reporters at a news briefing. Branstad did not attend. “The governor is a charitable person.”
The Branstads’ donations, which were not itemized, went to nine Catholic charities plus roughly a dozen others, including the Boy Scouts of America, Susan G. Komen Fund, Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Des Moines Performing Arts.
The Branstads also continued to make contributions to the college savings account for their six grandchildren, donating $18,978 to their grandchildren’s Iowa 529 plan.
Gov. Branstad made no income from his autobiography, which was published in 2015, nor did he receive any tax benefits from the book, his staff said. All proceeds from the book sales go to the Iowa History Fund, which supports historical preservation projects statewide.
Branstad’s effective tax rate in 2015 was 10.18 percent. He paid a net $18,859 in federal taxes and $2,629 in state taxes in 2015, which included refunds of $11,784 from the federal government and $7,349 from the state.
The Branstads’ total tax liability, including taxes paid, net refunds and net contributions, was $30,687.
The Branstads’ taxes were prepared by Jamie Ward of Denman & Co. Ward has been preparing the governor’s taxes for more than a decade, she said.
The governor’s tax records were released later this year because of changes to Iowa’s tax code enacted during the recently completed legislative session.
Ward said Branstad benefited “nominally” from the tax changes, which coupled Iowa tax rules with federal rules.