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US President Joe Biden. Image Credit: New York Times

Washington: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden reported a drop in income as they filed their tax returns for 2020, marking a return to the normal practice of releasing such information by modern US presidents.

The Bidens reported income of $607,336 in 2020, down from $985,223 in 2019 due to the lack of book sales and paid speeches during the election campaign. During the 2020 presidential race, Biden’s campaign said he and his wife made $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018.

The Bidens paid $157,414 in federal income tax and their 2020 effective federal income tax rate is 25.9 per cent. The most recent IRS data indicates that the average federal income tax rate is just over 14 per cent. The Bidens also reported holding cash and investments between $1.2 million and $2.88 million in a financial disclosure filed with the Office of Government Ethics.

An exception

Former President Trump paid a grand total of $750 in 2016 and 2017... Image Credit: AFP

Former President Donald Trump, who had long sought to keep his personal financial records secret, repeatedly refused to release his tax returns, claiming multiple times that he was not able to as he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, even as the agency claimed he was free to do so.

The New York Times reported in 2020 that 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.

Tax the wealthy

The release of Biden’s tax returns also comes at a time when he has pushed for raising the taxes on the wealthy to fund his infrastructure plan. Biden has proposed an increase in capital gains tax to 39.6 per cent from 20 per cent for those making more than $1 million a year.

“With this release, the President has shared a total of 23 years of tax returns with the American public,” the White House said. It also released 2020 tax returns for Vice-President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. They reported a combined income of $1,695,225, most of which came from Emhoff’s work at a law firm. They paid $621,893 in federal income tax at a rate of 36.7 per cent.

Harris and Emhoff’s earnings were also substantially lower from 2019, when they had $3,018,127 in income and paid $1,185,628 in taxes.