Hours before his first debate with President Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday released his 2019 tax returns and his campaign called on Trump, who has come under fire for not releasing his returns, to do the same.
Biden, due to share the stage with Trump on Tuesday evening in Cleveland, took the step two days after the New York Times reported Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 – and none in 10 of the previous 15 years – following years of reporting steep losses from business enterprises.
Trump had long sought to keep his personal financial records secret.
Biden’s taxes showed that he and his wife Jill paid more than $346,000 in federal taxes and other payments for 2019 on an income of nearly $985,000 before seeking a refund of nearly $47,000 they said they had overpaid the government.
“This is a historic level of transparency meant to give the American people faith once again that their leaders will look out for them and not their own bottom lines,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said on a call with reporters.
“Mr. President, release your tax returns or shut up,” Bedingfield added.
With more than a million Americans already casting early ballots and time running out to change minds or influence the small sliver of undecided voters, the stakes are enormous as the two White House candidates take the stage five weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
The Biden tax returns gambit ahead of the debate shows that the former vice president is seeking political advantage on an issue that could resonate with voters – a wealthy real estate developer-turned-politician who has, according to the New York Times report, often avoided paying federal income taxes.
Democrats have sought to portray Trump as a tax dodger. Trump’s persistent refusal to release his taxes has been a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates.
Biden’s 2019 return showed most of his income came from a company he has said handles payments from his speaking and writing engagements and from a University of Pennsylvania teaching post from which he took an unpaid leave of absence after launching his candidacy.