NJ Gov. Phil Murphy Earned $2.2 Million In 2018, Lowest In Nine Years, Tax Returns Show
Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy, reported earning $2.2 million in 2018, the year Murphy began his term as governor, the lowest amount the couple brought in over the last nine years, according to two pages of the couple's joint 2018 tax return and a summary released by the governor's office Wednesday.
That's about a third of the $6.8 million the Murphys collected in 2017, a year they spent primarily campaigning and preparing for office. The Murphys paid $833,000 in state and federal taxes in 2018, with a 37% effective tax rate, and gave $627,000 to charity.
Most of the couple's income came from interests and dividends, as well as $147,000 in taxable income from his salary. The New Jersey governor's yearly salary is $175,000.
From 2010 to 2018, the family paid between 31.6% and 39% of their income in taxes, and the couple's income ranged from a low of $2.2 million in 2018 to a high of $7.3 million in 2015. The Murphys earned $41.9 million over the course of nine years.
The documents released Wednesday do not show which charitable groups received checks from the Murphys.
Murphy is a former Goldman Sachs executive and Democratic National Committee finance chairman who poured $22.5 million into his gubernatorial race, ranking him among the top self-funders in New Jersey history, behind former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, and Doug Forrester, the Republican who ran against Corzine. Murphy also served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013, where he was paid $140,000 a year.
In May 2018, Murphy placed most of his investments — not including the two-thirds interest in the women's soccer team he owns, Sky Blue FC — into a blind trust managed by his brother-in-law.
Murphy earned capital gains from selling stock in dozens of companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Apple, Google's parent company Alphabet, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Honeywell International, according to his 2018 disclosure statement.
The governor's office only distributes two pages of the couple's tax forms, and plans to give reporters access to all the documents Thursday for four hours. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie posted his entire tax returns on the state website.
While executive officials and legislators are required by law to fill out annual personal financial disclosures, there is no rule compelling officials to release their tax returns.
State lawmakers passed a law in 2017, which Christie vetoed, that would have forced presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the New Jersey ballot and receive the state's votes in the Electoral College. The bill was a dig at President Donald Trump, who broke with decades of tradition and refused to give out that information.
However, only 2 out of the 119 state lawmakers allowed reporters from the Trenton Bureau of the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey to view their own tax returns. Sens. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington and Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex, showed reporters their tax filings, while spokespeople for the rest of the Senate and Assembly said that the annual personal financial disclosures were sufficient.
But tax returns show a more accurate picture of how much a person brings in each year, as the financial forms only ask lawmakers to show their sources of income in four ranges, with the top bracket covering all income worth $50,000 or more. In comparison, New York requires lawmakers to report income in one of 108 ranges, up to $10 million or more.
The Network's Trenton Bureau also found errors in the New Jersey financial forms, which lawmakers corrected once alerted to the mistakes.