Bernie Sanders Defends Tax Returns Proving He's a Millionaire to Fox News: I Won't 'Apologize for Writing a Best-selling Book'

Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday defended his tax returns at a heated Fox News town hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, after releasing 10 years of tax documents online minutes before the event began.

Although the Democratic senator and 2020 presidential candidate has never denied his status as a millionaire, the release of his tax returns spanning 10 years proved how his 2016 presidential run elevated him into wealth. In 2015, Sanders and his wife Jane Sanders pulled in $240,622, according to the returns posted to his campaign website. A year later, the figure soared to $1,073,000 after Sanders' newly-earned political status from launching his first White House bid drew in substantial royalties through his bestselling book "Our Revolution," released November 2016.

During Sanders' Fox News town hall, Joe Basrawi, a student and audience member, asked the senator how he "plans to apply the policies" he's been "talking about enforcing on top earners" now that his "tax returns have been released" proving he's a millionaire and in the top one percent.

Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist, started his response by reiterating his support for a wealth tax and distaste for the Republicans' latest tax cuts.

"We have an absurd tax system. While millions of people today are paying more in taxes than they anticipated, Amazon, Netflix and dozens of major corporations as a result of Trump's tax bill paid nothing in federal taxes. I think that's a disgrace," Sanders said, before addressing his status as a millionaire.

"You raised the issue I am a millionaire. Well actually this year we had $560,000 in income, and that's a lot of money, and that money in my case, my wife's case, it came from a book that I wrote. Pretty good book. You might want to read it," the senator continued as the audience responded with laughter and applause.

"It's a best-seller, sold all over the world, we made money. So if anyone thinks that I should apologize for writing a best-selling book, I'm sorry, I'm not going to do it," Sanders added.

Sanders then tackled criticisms from conservatives that he personally "benefited from Trump's tax bill."

Turning to Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha McCallum, Sanders asked: "Did you tell people I voted against Trump's tax bill?"

Later in the segment, Baier asked Sanders why he didn't refuse to take Trump's tax cuts. "I pay the taxes that I owe, and by the way, why don't you get Donald Trump up here and ask them how much he pays in taxes?" the senator replied sharply.

In a statement addressing the tax returns, Sanders said the documents "show that our family has been very fortunate."

"I consider paying more in taxes as my income rose to be both an obligation and an investment in our country. I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people," he added.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 12
Sen. Bernie Sanders defended his status as a millionaire during a Fox News town hall on Monday. Fox News screenshot