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Stenger Releases Six Years Of State Tax Returns; Dooley Agrees To Debate

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A week after he pledged to do so, St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, has released six years of his state returns. It's the latest salvo in the continued sparring over taxes with County Executive Charlie Dooley.

The two men are battling over Dooley’s job in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.

Dooley has said he wouldn't debate Stenger unless Stenger released more of his tax returns. On Friday, Dooley's campaign said the county executive would now agree to St.Louis Public Radio's debate invitation, which calls for the event to be held on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Further details will be worked out shortly, a Dooley spokesman said.

Stenger’s state tax returns show the same income swings his federal tax returns for 2007-2012 did. He made those public months ago.

Dooley’s new ad campaign began this week. One of his ads was an attack jabbing Stenger for not releasing his state tax returns.

A week ago, Stenger told St. Louis Public Radio he was releasing the documents; a spokesman tied the delay to the birth last Thursday of Stenger’s first child, a daughter.

In March, Dooley and Stenger each released several years of their federal tax returns, with Dooley making public his state tax returns as well.  Dooley released copies of 10 years of his federal and state returns, and has called on Stenger to do the same.

Stenger has released six years of his taxes. He declined to make public copies of his taxes prior to 2007 because they involved the taxes and income of his first wife. Stenger has yet to file his tax returns for 2013; he has an extension until this fall.

Stenger’s state taxes during 2007-2012 ranged dramatically, reflecting sharp swings in his income. The high was $43,010 in state taxes — paid in 2007, his peak income year when his state gross income was $766,434.

He paid no state taxes in 2008, when his state taxable income plummeted to $14,123.  His federal gross income in 2008 had been in the red, a negative $60,259, because of losses and deductions.

Stenger’s state gross income in 2009 bounced back to $178,596. That was the year he married his current wife, Allison Stenger.  Her reported income was a negative $1,238, while Stenger’s gross state income was $179,834. Their state tax totaled $7,662.

In 2010, the couple’s gross state income was $356,074, with Steve Stenger earning $357,531 and his wife reporting an income of minus $1,457. Their state tax was $18,831.

In 2011, the couple’s joint income was $321,804, with Stenger earning $321,759 and his wife reporting earnings of $45. Their state taxes totaled $16,940.

In 2012, Stenger and his wife reported joint income of $314,404. He earned $315,854, and his wife reported an income loss of $1,450.  Their state taxes totaled $16,555.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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