On Monday, the delayed due date for filing federal taxes for the last calendar year, the White House made a theatrical show of releasing President Biden’s 2020 tax returns. In so doing, the new administration wanted to show a contrast with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who did not release his tax returns.
But while the White House emphasized the release of Biden’s returns, it does not want reporters to scrutinize the content of those returns, because doing so would highlight a pattern of hypocritical behavior by the current president and his family. To wit: For the fourth year running, the First Family used a questionable tax loophole to avoid paying more than $500,000 in Medicare and Obamacare taxes — a loophole that the Biden administration now claims it wants to close.
Corporate Profits vs. Wages
The loophole comes because Joe Biden and his wife Jill categorized much of their book and speech revenue as profits from two corporations they created, rather than as taxable wages. Under current law, corporate profits are not subject to payroll taxes, meaning the Bidens avoided paying 3.8 percent in taxes — a 2.9 percent levy that funds Medicare, and a 0.9 percent tax created by Section 9015 of Obamacare that funds that law — on every dollar they categorized as corporate profits rather than wages.
The Bidens exploited this loophole most aggressively in 2017 and 2018 when Joe Biden earned millions through a reported $8 million book advance and various speaking engagements. Because Biden spent 2019 and 2020 running for president, the couple’s income — and therefore their ability to use this loophole — dropped. In 2020, Joe Biden reported no income at all from his corporation, and therefore could not utilize this loophole to reduce his tax bill.
But Jill Biden continued to use this loophole in 2020 on earnings from her corporation. As the chart below shows, the Bidens avoided a total of $516,992 in taxes over the past four years:
|2017 Return||2018 Return||2019 Return||2020 Return|
|Total Wages Paid||$245,833||$500,000||$308,932||$200,000|
|Total Corporate Profits||$10,048,739||$3,236,764||$228,703||$90,854|
|Medicare Taxes Avoided (2.9% of Corporate Profits)||$291,413||$93,866||$6,632||$2,635|
|Obamacare Taxes Avoided (0.9% of Corporate Profits)||$90,439||$29,131||$2,058||$818|
|Total Taxes Avoided||$381,852||$122,997||$8,691||$3,452|
To put this tax evasion into context, while the Bidens avoided $394,547 in Medicare taxes over the past four years, the Urban Institute calculated that the average couple who retired last year would have paid a total of $161,000 in Medicare taxes over their entire working lives.
The Bidens also avoided $122,446 in Obamacare taxes, even as Biden’s campaign spent last year highlighting his supposedly personal connections to, and passion for, that law. The candidate’s actions belied his rhetoric, however: Biden went out of his way to avoid paying Obamacare taxes, using a loophole that tax experts said he put in place solely to reduce his (Obamacare) tax bill.
Having dodged more than half a million dollars in taxes over the past four years by characterizing most of his family’s earnings as corporate profits rather than wages, what does Joe Biden now want to do? He wants to eliminate the loophole he so shamelessly — and recently — exploited.
The last paragraph of the administration’s American Families Plan, released last month, includes this language:
Finally, high-income workers and investors generally pay a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on their earnings, but the application is inconsistent across taxpayers due to holes in the law. The President’s tax reform would apply the taxes consistently to those making over $400,000, ensuring that all high-income Americans pay the same Medicare taxes.
Joe Biden knows all about the “inconsistent application” of this 3.8 percent tax due to “holes in the law,” because he exploited those holes himself. Now, after dodging more than half a million dollars in Medicare and Obamacare taxes, Biden suddenly got religion, and wants to close this loophole for others.
The ironies don’t end there. In a recent speech on his tax plan, Biden claimed that “we’re not going to deprive [wealthy] executives” of “their second or third home:”
That choice of words seems very intriguing from someone who, while dodging hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal taxes, used the money he saved to buy a $2.7 million beach house in Delaware and rent this mansion outside Washington:
Mr. President, Audit Thyself
The president’s tax plan also includes provisions to “increase investment in the IRS, while ensuring that the additional resources go toward enforcement against those with the highest incomes.” If Joe Biden believes in this provision so much, he should start by asking the IRS to audit his 2017 through 2020 tax returns, given that tax experts have called his use of the “corporate profits” loophole so aggressive as to potentially violate federal guidelines.
The current febrile atmosphere of cynicism and contempt toward Washington stems in large part from politicians who say one thing and do another. For Joe Biden — who preaches “tax fairness,” yet uses loopholes he wants to eliminate for others — to understand this phenomenon should not take much effort. He only need to look in the mirror.