U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk released his 2009 tax return on Friday. It was an opportunity for reporters to examine the congressman's income, and his allegiance to Uncle Sam.
As I reported last week, Kirk released the return partly as a challenge to Alexi Giannoulias, who filed for an extension on his taxes. Giannoulias' campaign has not released a copy of the extension papers or any preliminary tax information, or elaborated on why he requested one.
But I wanted to get beyond the politics and dig into the tax returns themselves.
Since the Kirk campaign doesn't allow reporters to make copies of the returns, I met with Kirk campaign spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, who offered to meet me with the papers downtown at Republican Party headquarters.
As it turns out, Kirk's taxes are quite plain.
Sure, he's made more than $135,000 during eight of the past 11 years — an annual income of which most Illinoisans can only dream. But his deductions are pretty standard fare: mostly property taxes, mortgage interest and gifts to charity.
And, despite his connections with gold-plated financial-services giants, he files his taxes with the everyman accounting firm H&R Block.
In all, Kirk made nearly $1.6 million from 1999, the year before he won election to the U.S. House, to 2009, the year he announced a run for the U.S. Senate. He paid nearly $254,000 in taxes during the 11-year period.
Kirk's 2000 run for Congress wasn't easy on his pocketbook.
In addition to his military duty, he'd been working as an attorney until then, making nearly $91,000 in 1999. In 2000, as he mounted a national campaign, he earned little more than $4,000.
Since then, his income steadily grew from $136,000 during his first year in Congress through 2008, when he and his then wife, attorney Kimberly Vertolli, earned a combined $239,311.
Kirk and Vertolli filed jointly from 2001 until 2008, when they divorced.
Naturally, his household income declined after the split. He made $160,000 last year and paid $32,000 in taxes.
Kirk's charitable giving has ebbed and flowed throughout the years. While he's reported donations to charity in every year since 1999 except 2000, his itemized donations have varied from $400 in 1999, to $6,192 in 2005.
He wasn't quite as generous last year, when all $2,700 of his reported charitable donations went to the Kenilworth Union Church, according to his return.
I included further details from Kirk's tax returns on a spreadsheet.