'Middle Class Joe' No More: Biden Earned $15 Million Since Leaving Office

Jul 9, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden has referred to himself as "middle class Joe" throughout his political career, and used to regularly joke about being the "poorest person on Congress."

Those terms no longer apply.

Biden and his wife, Jill, have together earned more than $15 million since Biden left office. That's according to tax returns and other financial disclosure forms released by Biden's campaign on Tuesday. The bulk of the Bidens' earnings come from book sales and paid speaking engagements – two routine sources of income for former high-ranking public officials.

The documents show Biden has earned far more than the rest of the 2020 presidential field, with the likely exception of billionaire Tom Steyer, who entered the race Tuesday.

The Bidens' adjusted gross income for 2018 was $4.5 million. It was even higher — $11 million – in 2017. They have paid a federal tax rate of just over 33% each year.

By comparison, Vermont. Sen Bernie Sanders earned $561,293 last year, California Sen. Kamala Harris reported $1,884,319. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took in $846,394, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg reported $152,643.

Presidential candidates typically don't release their tax returns until they've become their party's nominee. President Trump broke tradition and refused to make his tax returns public. As Democrats have continued to make that a political issue, the majority of the 2020 field have made their own financial information public. Biden's campaign points out that he's now disclosed the last 21 years of tax returns, including disclosures during his 2008 run and time as vice president.

Biden's itemized financial disclosure shows that his income came mostly from his book Promise Me, Dad about his late son Beau Biden and the book tour that accompanied its release. He also made over $2 million from other paid speaking engagements, an average of over $127,000 per event. Event companies, universities, and community groups were among those who provided for Biden's paid speeches, but not major corporations or industry groups.

The Bidens gave $275,896 to charity last year. The rate – about six percent of their overall income – was higher than any other candidate except Warren, who also donated about the same percentage of her income.

Here is the latest tax information from Biden and several of the other Democratic candidates who have reported it.

Former Vice President Joe Biden (2018 return)

Adjusted gross income: $4,580,437
Taxes paid: $1,528,208, or 33% rate
Charity: $275,796, or 6%

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (2018 return)

AGI: $152,643
Taxes paid: $20,136, or 13.2%
Charity: $765, or 0.5%

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (2018 return)
AGI: $214,083
Taxes paid: $29,170, or 13.6% rate
Charity: $3,750, or 1.8%

California Sen. Kamala Harris
AGI: $1,884,319
Taxes paid: $697,611, or 37%
Charity: $27,259, or 1.4%

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2018 return)
AGI: $202,912
Taxes paid: $29,906, or 14.7%
Charity: $8,295, or 4.1%

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (2018 return)
AGI: $338,121
Taxes paid: $65,927, or 19.5%
Charity: $6,602, or 2%

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (2017 return)
AGI: $366,455
Taxes paid: $81,019, or 22%
Charity: $1,166, or 0.3%

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
AGI: $ $561,293
Taxes paid: $ $145,840, or 26%
Charity: $18,950, or 3.4%

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (2018 return)
AGI: $846,394
Taxes paid: $230,965, or $27.3%
Charity: $50,128, or 5.9%

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