- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday hours before the first presidential debate, painting a sharp contrast with President Trump’s finances and obligations.

The Biden campaign said the American people deserve to know where both candidates stand financially.

“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 line,” said Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield.

Mr. Biden released his 2019 returns days after The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and that the president appears to be responsible for loans totaling more than $400 million, most of which come due in the next several years.

Mr. Biden and Jill Biden, his wife, reported an adjusted gross income of $985,233 in 2019, pocketing about $500,000 in paychecks and the rest from retirement, investment income and businesses set up for book sales and speaking fees.

They paid about $300,000 in income taxes, a roughly 30% tax rate.

Mr. Biden reported $135,116 in salary from the University of Pennsylvania — he went on unpaid leave in April 2019 — and some five- and six-figure speaking fees on a financial disclosure form he filed earlier this year.

Mrs. Biden teaches at Northern Virginia Community College.

Mr. Biden said the new disclosure means he has released 22 years’ worth of his tax returns throughout his lengthy career in the public eye.

The Biden campaign also released the 2019 returns for running mate Sen. Kamala D. Harris and Doug Emhoff, her husband, on Tuesday.

The couple reported an adjusted gross income of just over $3 million in 2019 and paid more than $1 million in taxes.

Mr. Emhoff is currently on leave from his job with the law firm DLA Piper.

The disclosures were directed squarely at Mr. Trump, who has broken with decades of precedent for major-party presidential nominees in declining to release any of his tax returns, citing an ongoing IRS audit.

Mr. Trump and his team also dismissed The New York Times report as a last-minute smear job intended to give Mr. Biden a boost ahead of the debate.

“The president has paid tens of millions of dollars in taxes in the decade leading up to him declaring his candidacy and millions after,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News.

Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, called for an investigation of the paper’s source to see if any laws were broken.

“While many critics question the article’s accuracy, equally troubling is the prospect that a felony crime was committed by releasing the private tax return information of an individual — in this case, the president’s,” said Mr. Brady, Texas Republican.

The paper said it obtained the tax data from sources with legal access to the information.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat at the forefront of the fight to get Mr. Trump’s tax returns, said the report confirms “some of our worst fears.”

“Trump’s titanic financial losses confirm that while he campaigned as a so-called brilliant financial wizard, Trump is a cheat, a fraud, and perhaps the worst businessman in the world,” Mr. Pascrell said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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