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Sanders’ road to riches

Sanders wasn’t always a millionaire. Financial disclosures from his time as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont reveal that he earned just $33,700 annually from 1981 to 1989. As a U.S. congressman, he earned $96,000, and then $165,000 in the senate. As of 2015, Bernie and his wife had total assets worth less than $750,000 (along with somewhere between $25,000 to $65,000 in credit card debt on his Visa cards.)

Put simply, Sanders has spent most of his life as a non-millionaire. However, his growing popularity has generated lucrative book deals that began in the 2010s. After publishing “Our Revolution,” he earned $1 million in 2016 and $1.1 million in 2017. (He also donated all royalties from his 2011 book, “The Speech,” to charity.)

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What is Bernie Sanders' net worth?

As of 2023, Bernie and his wife own at least three properties, ranging from a family home in Vermont to a townhouse in Washington D.C. Sanders’ net worth is estimated to be $3 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Sanders’ net worth, while sizable, doesn’t make him the only rich politician — or anywhere near the richest. His wealth is dwarfed by Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who created the Columbia Hospital Corporation. Scott was worth more than $300 million as of 2022.

In fact, Sanders isn’t even the wealthiest Democrat. That distinction goes to Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who made his wealth in venture capital and is estimated to be worth $215 million.

While those figures dwarf Sanders’ net worth, the Vermont firebrand has been especially scrutinized because of his outspoken criticism of rich people. He has described billionaires as “immoral” and believes no one should have that much wealth.

More: How to find your net worth

Champagne socialist?

In fact, Sanders' earnings from book sales may not be at odds with his stances on capitalism. On his website, he targets the “ultra-wealthy” with a proposed tax that kicks in at a net worth threshold of $23 million and above. The taxes are highest for the wealthiest, which means if implemented they would reduce the total wealth of billionaires by half within 15 years.

What’s more, Sanders isn’t part of the charmed circle he targets. His wealth is below the $10.4 million threshold for the top 1% of Americans, and his annual income falls far below the $824,000 required to enter the 1% club, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Sanders has also declared and paid taxes on his income. His income sources are clear and lack any evidence that he uses the tax loopholes he often criticizes. In fact, he was also the co-sponsor of the “Buffett Rule” bill, which was introduced after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said it was unfair that he was paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Could it be that those who call Sanders a hypocrite are just trying to protect their own wealth? Whatever the case, Sanders makes just enough to live comfortably, and shows enough spunk at 81 to make the super-rich uncomfortable.

More: Bernie Sanders favors the 4-day work week

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Vishesh Raisinghani Freelance Writer

Vishesh Raisinghani is a freelance contributor at MoneyWise. He has been writing about financial markets and economics since 2014 - having covered family offices, private equity, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and tech stocks over that period. His work has appeared in Seeking Alpha, Motley Fool Canada, Motley Fool UK, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Post, Financial Post, and Yahoo Canada.

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