David Perdue earned $55 million over 10 years, tax returns show

Our colleagues Shannon McCaffrey and James Salzer have been sifting through businessman and Georgia U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue's tax records. Here is what they found:

A review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that from 2003-2012, Perdue earned $55 million and paid $21 million in taxes, or 38 percent.  That effective rate varied from year to year. Perdue began to pay a lower tax rate after he left as the chief executive officer of Dollar General.  Since then, he’s been an investor and small business owner in Perdue Partners, the export and consulting company he founded with his cousin, former Gov. Sonny Perdue.

David Perdue paid a 9 percent effective rate in 2010, when he took a hit on EcoGrow stock. But in 2008, he earned $24.8 million and paid 48 percent in taxes after the leveraged buyout of Dollar General.  Among the $9.1 million in taxes he paid that year was a “golden parachute” tax of $2.7 million from the discount store chain.

In 2007 and 2008, Perdue raked in $42 million from Dollar General.

The tax returns also show that Perdue earned $1.3 million from Pillowtex in 2003, the same year the company failed leaving thousands jobless. Perdue was brought in as chief executive officer of the North Carolina textile manufacturer but left after less than a year at the helm. The company folded just months after Perdue left.

Over the 10 years of tax returns reviewed by the AJC, Perdue donated about $1 million to charities, or just under 2 percent of his income.  The high was in 2012 when he donated $289,120. The low was in 2008 -- when he earned nearly $25 million -- and donated $28,127.

Georgia Tech has been a big beneficiary of Perdue’s charitable giving. Perdue liquidated $358,512 in Dollar General stock and donated the proceeds to his alma mater.

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey released five years of returns. The Marietta Republican made an average of $354,054 per year, about doubling his Congressional salary with investments, Social Security benefits -- Gingrey is 71 -- and retirement account payments. He paid an average of 22.3 percent of his income in taxes.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel started this merry-go-round by releasing her taxes first and asking the other campaigns to do so. Rep. Paul Broun has declined and Rep. Jack Kingston's camp has indicated that he will but so far has not released the returns. Democratic front-runner Michelle Nunn's campaign said she "plans on making additional financial information available" but didn't elaborate on what that meant.

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