National News

Cynthia Nixon’s Tax Return Shows $1.3 Million in Earnings

Posted May 4, 2018 10:06 p.m. EDT

ALBANY, New York — Cynthia Nixon released her lengthy and labyrinthine 2017 tax return Friday, showing that she and her wife earned more than $1.3 million through salary, capital gains, investments and Nixon’s acting career, including residuals from her starring role on “Sex and the City.”

After deductions and business expenses, the couple showed an adjusted income of $619,799 and paid slightly less than a quarter of that — $150,600 — in federal taxes. They also paid more than $62,000 in state and local taxes.

The release followed several weeks of attacks from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a second-term Democrat whom Nixon is seeking to unseat in her first run for public office. It also ignited new questions about disclosure, including in Cuomo’s past campaigns, and served as another front in an already combative, and potentially competitive, showdown for the Democratic nomination.

Cuomo released his 2017 return on April 17, showing an adjusted gross income of $212,776, as well as the payment of investment management fees that suggested holdings of about $2 million.

Nixon’s base earnings from acting far surpassed Cuomo’s from politics, including drawing down $400,000 from an S corporation — Fickle Mermaid — that she established in 1999 to manage her career and limit financial exposure. Nixon’s campaign called such a pass-through commonplace in the acting world, allowing her to pay professional expenses and set up a retirement account. In 2017, Fickle Mermaid received more than $1 million in payments.

Nixon’s wife, Christine Marinoni, earned $128,000 from the City of New York; she worked at the education department, resigning just before Nixon began her campaign.

The couple netted more than $125,000 in capital gains and were paid nearly $33,000 in dividends from investments. They also reported a net loss of $85,260 from rental properties they own, though one of those properties sold last year for a profit of $185,000.

Like Cuomo, Nixon allowed reporters to look through her returns — which included filings from several other states where she worked, including California, Illinois and Utah — but not take copies of the documents.

Cuomo continued to criticize Nixon, suggesting that “one year is not enough” and preaching about the virtues of transparency.

“My advice, personal advice, is if you have something to hide, this is the wrong business to get into,” Cuomo said Friday, in remarks to reporters in lower Manhattan.

Shortly after, Nixon’s camp shot back, calling Cuomo a “corrupt hypocrite” for not disclosing his tax return in 2010, when he made his first successful run for governor. In his remarks, Cuomo said he had filed an extension and offered a summary of his taxes in 2010, and his campaign aides said he had released his returns in many other years, including his time as governor.

By day’s end, the Cuomo campaign was pointing to a statement from committee members of the state Democratic Party — which the governor controls — that calls on any statewide candidate vying for the Democratic line on the ballot to “be required to release 10 years of tax returns.”

Earlier in the week, Cuomo’s campaign had seized on a report in Politico that said a foundation by Nixon and Marinoni had given to several groups in past years that have now endorsed her for governor.

The foundation’s 2017 return shows that it gave money to disparate groups — such as those fighting cystic fibrosis, doing nonprofit theater and the Girl Scouts — including $15,000 to the Public Policy and Education Fund, which is an affiliate of Citizen Action of New York. That group has endorsed Nixon.

Nixon gave $52,875 in charitable donations, personally or through her foundation, in 2017. Cuomo gave $11,000, all to a homelessness group, HELP USA, that he founded.

“Cynthia readily admits that she has been very fortunate, and is now among the higher earners in the state,” said Rebecca Katz, a senior strategist to Nixon’s campaign. “Unlike Andrew Cuomo, she doesn’t pretend to be middle class.”

That swipe refers to repeated assertions from the governor — who was paid a salary of $173,000 and has a blind trust — that he is “a middle-class guy.” Cuomo’s aides have said the governor is referring to his upbringing in Queens before his father, Mario M. Cuomo, became a three-term governor.

Nixon’s tax return also showed that she and her wife paid $28,331 in real estate taxes.

Cuomo lives at a home owned by his longtime girlfriend, television host Sandra Lee, in Westchester County. He therefore does not owe property taxes, but he says he shares such costs — and all expenses — with Lee.