In news reminiscent of the 2016 election, it emerged recently that President Trump paid $750 or less in taxes over the past several years and that he and his companies have outstanding debt that may exceed $1 billion—this, on top of the news last month that his net worth dropped $600 million to $25 million in a single year. This stands in contrast to someone who was once referred to as the "poorest man in Congress," Joe Biden. Granted, presidential candidate Biden is still wealthy by anyone's standards, but his net worth and how he obtained it is easier to trace, especially because he has released his tax returns every year for more than a decade. With a family history that spanned both wealth and hardship, Biden spent many years as "Middle Class Joe" before he obtained his current net worth. So how did he make his money, and how much is he worth today?
Joe Biden is a millionaire, according to Forbes.
In all, Joe is reportedly worth $9 million at present, which is significantly more than earlier in his career. This number, from Forbes and calculated in 2019, is based on a total portfolio of $4 million in real estate (Joe and wife Jill Biden own two homes in Delaware), cash/investments worth $4 million, and a federal pension worth more than $1 million. The Bidens released their tax returns from 2016 to 2018, which showed that they paid about a third of their income in taxes in 2017 and 2018 ($3.7 million and $1.5 million, respectively), and that they donated a significant amount to charity in 2017 and 2018 ($1 million and $275,000, respectively).
The Biden family experienced both wealth and relative poverty.
Joe Biden Sr., who had a profound impact on his son, came from wealth—his father ran a division of American Oil. But Joe Sr. set out as an entrepreneur and had several business failures, leaving the family impoverished according to his son's memoir (at one point the children even went to stay with their grandmother). Joe Sr. eventually found work selling cars and the family settled in Delaware–where they remain to this day—and Joe Jr. completed a work-study program to attend the prestigious Archmere Academy in Claymont.
Joe started working at a law firm after his marriage to first wife Neilia and then became one of the youngest senators ever to be elected, with a starting salary at about $42,500 a year ($250,000 in today's dollars, adjusted for inflation). He started releasing his tax forms in 1998, which indicated that they two made money from his Senate salary. Jill's work in community colleges also contributed to their overall salary; she's been an educator for more than three decades. In 2009, Joe's senator salary was $169,300, then his salary as President Obama's vice president averaged about $225,000 every year.
Biden's net worth increased during and after his vice presidency.
When Joe officially ended his term as VP, he filed a financial disclosure form that listed his net worth between -$897,000 and $489,000. But then, in the subsequent two years, the couple apparently made more than $15 million in speaking fees, book tours (both he and and Jill released memoirs), and leadership at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania (he's currently on leave of absence). In turn, they were able to make more donations and pay off one of their mortgages—one is still outstanding, as well as a line of credit for one of their sons—and buy a new property in Rehoboth Beach. If he wins the presidency, his salary will be $400,000 a year, not including an expense allowance, and Jill has said she'll continue working too.
Hours prior to the debate, Biden released his 2019 tax returns.
On September 29, hours before the debate, Biden released his 2019 tax returns. They showed that he and Jill had received $985,233 in adjusted gross income and paid about $300,000 in taxes. Biden has now released 22 years of tax returns; Trump has released none.
Biden's running mate Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff also released her recent filings, paying $1.19 million in federal taxes on about $3.1 million in income. (If you want to know more about Kamala Harris' net worth, find out more here.)
The releases came days after the New York Times report that revealed nearly two decades of Trump's long-withheld tax filings. Most importantly, he paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and paid no income tax in 10 of the 15 years before 2017. Trump has denied the allegations made in the article, saying it was "totally fake news" and "made up," at a press conference just moments after its release.
Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said releasing the documents showed "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."