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Edwards, wife made $39 million in past decade

Ex-lawyer had dozens of multimillion-dollar verdicts, settlements


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife made almost $39 million in the past decade, about 80 percent of it before he was elected to the Senate in 1998, according to tax returns released Friday.

They paid nearly 35 percent of that income to the Internal Revenue Service, the returns show.

In their 1997 tax return, the last one to list Edwards' occupation as attorney rather than U.S. senator, the couple reported an adjusted gross income of $11.4 million.

Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, worked as an attorney until their oldest son, Wade, died in 1996.

In contrast, Dick Cheney in 2000, the year before he became vice president, reported more than $36 million in income and paid more than $14 million in taxes. He served as chief executive of Halliburton Co. until August 2000.

In the most recent return, for 2003, the Edwards reported an adjusted gross income of about $306,000, almost half of it from Edwards' $140,000 Senate salary. On that return, Mrs. Edwards listed her occupation as homemaker.

The 1997 return showed the most income of the 10 years covered, about double the second-place year. The jump in income for 1997 reflected his share of a $25 million jury award he won in the case of Valerie Lakey, the largest personal-injury award in North Carolina history, plus another $6 million in settlements. Part of 6-year-old Lakey's intestines had been sucked out by a faulty pool drain.

Edwards reported more than 40 multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements in the 1990s.

The couple said they donated about 8.6 percent of their income to charity, more than $3.3 million over the 10 years.

Here are the year-by-year numbers on their federal taxes and total income:

  • 1994: $1,998,066 in federal taxes on $5,214,005 of income.
  • 1995: $2,023,430 in federal taxes on $5,357,717 of income.
  • 1996: $1,539,879 in federal taxes on $4,278,210 of income.
  • 1997: $3,186,339 in federal taxes on $11,426,875 of income.
  • 1998: $2,157,760 in federal taxes on $5,893,302 of income.
  • 1999: $623,047 in federal taxes on $1,704,495 of income.
  • 2000: $654,716 in federal taxes on $1,821,273 of income.
  • 2001: $584,852 in federal taxes on $1,720,104 of income.
  • 2002: $361,396 in federal taxes on $1,221,953 of income.
  • 2003: $22,233 in federal taxes on $305,922 of income.

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