US Election

Biden releases 22 years of tax returns ahead of presidential debate

Joe Biden’s federal income tax bill for 2019 was nearly $300,000, while his running mate Kamala Harris and her husband paid over $1 million.

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Biden releases 22 years of tax returns ahead of presidential debate
MIKE SEGAR REUTERS

Things are expected to get heated in the first presidential debate of 2020 and Joe Biden has gone on the offensive by releasing his and running mate Kamala Harris’ tax returns just hours before the debate begins in Cleveland, Ohio.

Biden has made public 22 years of tax information that covers his earnings and that of his wife, Jill, who is a university professor. Their 2019 tax return lists their combined taxable income as $944,737, on which they paid a total of $299,346 in federal income taxes.

The democratic candidate’s pick for Vice President is California Senator Kamala Harris and she too has released her tax returns, revealing that her and husband, Doug Emhoff, paid $1,185,628 in taxes on $3,018,127 of taxable income. Emhoff was a partner at law firm DLA Piper until taking a leave of absence following the announcement of Harris as Biden’s running mate.

How will Biden tax return affect President Trump?

The issue of tax returns has persisted throughout Donald Trump’s time in office but recent events have brought greater focus on his financial dealings. A report in Sunday’s New York Times claimed that the President paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, and nothing at all in ten of the previous 15 years.

Trump has consistently refused to release his tax returns in the past and little is known about the inner workings of his vast business empire. The New York Times’ report shows that the President was able to minimise his personal tax bill by utilising "chronic losses and years of tax avoidance". His golf courses alone have cost him over $315 million since 2000 and he has around $300 million in loans to be repaid by 2024.

The President quickly took to twitter to hit out at the report, accusing them of using illegally-obtained information; a claim that the New York Times has vehemently denied.

Why has Biden decided to do this now?

The president’s tax affairs were always going to be a key topic in the first presidential debate after the explosive report but Biden has ratcheted up the pressure by revealing his own returns. Trump built his 2016 campaign off the back of his image as a successful businessman and property mogul, but his tax returns suggest that he has barely kept his empire afloat.

Biden has repeatedly called the President’s integrity into question and he appears to be using the evidence of tax avoidance as an opportunity to rubbish Trump’s claims to be a man of the people. Trump performed well in the rust belt states in 2016 but Biden is making inroads in this key battleground and the working class vote will again be crucial.