WASHINGTON (CN) — Without a years-long legal battle or launching invectives decrying a witch hunt, President Joe Biden released his tax returns for public scrutiny on Monday.
In statement Monday, the White House reported that for 2020, the 46th president and First Lady Jill Biden earned an adjusted gross income of $607,336, ultimately paying just over $157,000 in federal income tax. The presidential couple saw their effective tax rate reach 25.9%.
The tradition of presidents or would-be presidents going public with their tax returns has been largely uninterrupted since the Watergate scandal under former President Richard Nixon. Biden has so far released 23 years of his federal tax returns for public viewing, a far cry from President Donald Trump who, despite tepid promises in the early days of his presidential campaign to share them, stirred constant controversy by refusing to release the records.
The New York Times reported last September that Trump paid just a paltry $750 in federal income taxes in 2017. The same report indicated he paid nothing at all for many years prior. The average filer in the U.S., according to the IRS, paid almost $12,000 in 2017.
Records for individual filings as well as those under corporate entities were unearthed but not until recently did it seem the former president’s tax history might ever really come to light.
But this February the U.S. Supreme Court summarily shot down one of Trump’s final bids to shield his finances from public scrutiny after the high court refused to block a subpoena for Trump’s records from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
Vance now has access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns compiled by his accountants at Mazars USA. Vance is believed to be investigating whether Trump reported bogus property values to reap tax rewards but the details of his probe have been kept under wraps as is custom with a criminal probe.
The digging into Trump’s tax records began in earnest after evidence cropped up showing the Trump Organization created fake invoices to pay Michael Cohen, Trump’s onetime attorney, to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels following a fling. Trump contended for most of his single term presidency that the delay in releasing his taxes was due to auditing. All presidents and vice presidents are audited customarily.
The Bidens' tax returns are far less sensational and much more transparent. Though they earned about $600,000 in 2020, it was a large drop from the couple’s earnings just a year before when their joint filing was $985,223. Much of that income in 2019 came from book sales and speaking engagements.
In 2020, the Bidens also paid $28,794 to Delaware for state taxes and about $433 to Virginia. First Lady Jill Biden teaches in Virginia. The Bidens also donated just over $31,000 to 10 different charities, spending about 5.1% of their total income. The largest donation from the Bidens was to the Beau Biden Foundation for $10,000. The foundation is focused on ending child abuse.
Along with the president’s tax returns, the White House also released records from Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. In 2020, Harris and Income earned an adjusted gross income of just over $1.6 million with most of the revenue coming from Emhoff’s time as an attorney at DLA Piper. Together the couple paid about $621,000 in taxes and paid an effective corporate tax rate of 36.7%. Vice President Harris and her husband also paid $125,004 in California income tax and just under $57,000 to the District of Columbia for the same. Between the two, they donated $27,006 to charity last year.
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