- Associated Press - Thursday, March 23, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife’s reported earnings have risen from a nearly $122,000 loss in 2000 to an almost $426,000 profit in 2015, his first year as lieutenant governor.

That’s according to 16 years of income tax returns reporters for The Associated Press and other media outlets were allowed to view in the governor’s office Thursday. His 2016 returns are not yet prepared.

Over the 16 years, their reported income tallied nearly $3.4 million. Their rental properties started posting a net profit in 2003, after several years of combined losses. Over the past several years, most of their income came from those rentals.

Nearly three-quarters of their 2015 earnings came from 16 properties in Columbia, all but one located near the University of South Carolina campus. McMaster received less than $52,000 as lieutenant governor that year. About $35,000 came from Social Security benefits, which they’ve collected since 2011.

They paid nearly $129,000 combined in state and federal taxes.

The McMasters wrote checks to charities totaling nearly $14,200 in 2015, plus donated $400 worth of items to Goodwill. The bulk - $10,400 - went to First Presbyterian Church, while they gave $2,100 toward the new USC Law School.

After McMaster’s two terms as attorney general, a job that ended in January 2013, McMaster was paid to raise money for that project. His alma mater paid him $123,400 in 2011 as a fundraiser, $178,100 in 2012 and $103,000 in 2013.

The couple’s most profitable year in that 16-year period was 2014, when they earned nearly $441,000 - 60 percent of that from their rentals. Although the McMasters also rent out the family beach house on Pawleys Island, it doesn’t post a profit.

In 2000, while McMaster was state GOP chairman, both his law firm and their then-11 rental properties in Columbia reported losses. McMaster, chairman since 1993, served in that unpaid position through 2002.

In 2003, his first year as South Carolina’s attorney general, the McMasters’ combined income was $190,000 - $97,000 of that from his state salary.

Reporters went through more years of McMaster’s taxes in one afternoon than his predecessor, former Gov. Nikki Haley, made available over the past seven years. In all, she allowed reporters to view returns dating to 2004, the year she first won her state House seat.

Like Haley, McMaster did not allow documents to be copied, photographed or taken out of his office.

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