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Stenger's Tax Returns Show Dramatic Swings In Income

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

(Updated 10:30 p.m. Thurs., March 27)

St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger has released six years of his personal tax returns, although he views the matter as a “red herring’’ in his challenge of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley in this summer’s Democratic primary.

Stenger provided copies of his federal tax returns from 2007 through 2012 during his appearance on St. Louis Public Radio’s “Politically Speaking’’ podcast.

During a recent appearance on the podcast, Dooley  released all or part of his tax returns — federal and state — for 10 years. He challenged Stenger to do the same. 

Stenger said he couldn’t release returns prior to 2007 because they included financial information pertaining to his former wife. Stenger did not release his state tax returns.

The federal returns Stenger released show that his income has varied dramatically over the past six years — largely reflecting the roller-coaster nature of his career as a lawyer and a certified public accountant.

His returns also show his income and losses from various rental properties, including houses in Clayton and Cottleville. He also owns his residence in Affton and his law office.

In 2007, for example, Stenger’s wages totaled $793,500 and his adjusted gross income – after deductions and depreciation of his rental properties, as well as any stock income or losses — was $770,106. He paid federal taxes of $227,328.

 But in 2008, his wages dropped to $222,000 and, after deductions and losses, his adjusted gross income was in the red — showing a minus $60,259. His federal tax bill for the year was $21, and he received a refund of $47,027.

Stenger recovered a bit in 2009 when he remarried. Wages for the couple totaled $263,947 with an adjusted gross income of $178,586. His tax bill was $27,255.

From 2010 to 2012, the adjusted gross income for Steve and Allison Stenger has been fairly stable, in the $300,000-plus range each year.  Adjusted gross income in 2012, for example, was $314,404. His federal tax bill was $70,834.

The reported wages since 2009 include the $20,000 that he receives annually from his post on the County Council.

Dooley campaign spokeswoman Linda Goldstein accused Stenger of attempting to hide some financial facts because he did not release any state returns, or federal returns before 2006.

“Stenger released a total of six returns to Charlie Dooley’s sixteen. That is either a good start or bad
end. We’ll find out soon which. Meanwhile, Charlie has nothing to hide,” said Goldstein.

So far, Stenger and Dooley — both Democrats — are the only candidates for St. Louis County executive who have released copies of their tax returns.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.