In August 2020, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that his running mate would be California Senator Kamala Harris. Harris had previously run against Biden in the Democratic primaries, but dropped out of the race in December 2019. In a statement that December, Harris said her campaign "simply doesn't have the financial resources we need to continue." She continued, "I'm not a billionaire. I can't fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it's become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete."
According to The New York Times, Harris was still one of the biggest earners of the Democratic candidates even after Michael Bloomberg entered the race. In April 2019, as a presidential candidate, she released 15 years' worth of tax returns, the most of any candidate at that time. According to a campaign aide, the decision to release her taxes from 2004 to 2018 made her "the most transparent candidate in the field when it comes to information about personal finances."
Biden followed suit, releasing his filings just hours before the first (wildly exhausting) presidential debate last September. Though he was once known as the "poorest man in Congress," Biden is now estimated to have a net worth of about $9 million. His vice president is similarly well-endowed: According to Fortune, Harris's net worth is thought to be around $6.3 million. You can see the estimated net worths of President Biden's full cabinet here.
For full transparency, VP Harris released her and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff's 2020 tax returns in May 2021, which can be found here. The documents show that Harris and Emhoff reported a federal adjusted gross income of $1,695,225 and paid $621,893 in federal income tax. The couple also donated $27,006 to charity the same year.
It goes without saying, but the nation's first female VP, first Black VP, and first VP of South Asian descent has worked hard for her money—so here's a breakdown of where Harris's significant wealth comes from.
From her political career:
Kamala was elected as district attorney of San Francisco in 2003. According to Forbes, she made more than $140,000 that year, with her wages steadily increasing throughout her six years in the position, peaking at $202,000 in 2010. The job made her eligible for a pension worth at least $250,000 today, per Women's Health.
When Harris became California's attorney general in 2010, according to her tax returns, obtained by The New York Times, she took a significant drop in pay from her previous job, earning just under $160,000 a year. Seven years later, when she took office as a U.S. Senator representing California, her pay increased by a slight amount, up to the $174,000 annual salary that's been paid to every Senator since their last pay raise in 2009.
When Harris was sworn in as vice president in January, she started to receive a federally mandated salary of $235,100—quite the pay bump from her past political gigs. (For the record, the president's current annual salary is locked at $400,000.) On top of this, Harris will also be allowed to write off up to $100,000 for VP-related expenses, along with being housed for free at Number One Observatory Circle, the official vice presidential residence.
From her books:
As a three-time author, Harris has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in book advances. Harris published Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer in 2009 and a children's picture book called Superheroes Are Everywhere in 2019. That same year, she released her memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. According to her 2018 tax returns, she earned $320,125 from writing the memoir.
We can expect to see even more of Harris's writing in the years to come. Not only did she report $277,763 in earnings from book advances in 2019, but she'll also likely be tapped for future memoirs looking back on her history-making turn as VP once her time in office is complete.
From her joint assets with Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff:
Harris married lawyer Douglas Emhoff in 2014. Together, they have three homes together in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, which are worth a combined $2.5 million after accounting for debt, per Forbes. Based off of these and the other assets listed in the Senate financial disclosure forms Harris submitted on behalf of her and Emhoff last May, the couple's combined net worth could be as high as $6.3 million, according to Fortune. And even if you exclude Emhoff’s assets, Harris still has up to $1.7 million in her solo accounts.
Beyond their jointly-owned properties, Harris and Emhoff are also estimated to have earned a combined $8.2 million during their time together, with their annual earnings remaining steady around the $2 million mark throughout their six years of joint filings. Most of this comes from Emhoff’s work at law firms Venable and DLA Piper, according to Forbes. In 2018 alone, according to the tax return Harris released for that fiscal year, she and Emhoff reported a total of $1.9 million in adjusted gross income; they paid a tax rate of about 37 percent on their earnings that year, which was, interestingly, the highest tax rate paid by any of the 2020 Democratic candidates that year, per The New York Times.
Bianca Rodriguez is the Commerce Editor/Writer at Hearst Magazines Digital Media, where she covers fashion, beauty, home, and more. She likes long walks through shopping malls, a good book, and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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