Joe Biden scored $16 million in income after leaving White House ... but where did it go?

The Democratic nominee's latest federal financial disclosure report lists less than $3.5 million in assets after a major windfall.

Published: October 21, 2020 12:12pm

Updated: October 22, 2020 3:04pm

Joe Biden's personal finances — at least as he lists them publicly for voters — don't add up.

The politician who reveled in the moniker "Middle Class Joe" carried a relatively modest portfolio during 47 years in public office. But he scored a $16 million-plus windfall after he left the Obama White House. That includes $11 million he and his wife Jill earned in 2017, mostly on book and speaking fees, $4.6 million in 2018 and $985,000 last year, according to tax returns he made public earlier in the election.

But when he filed a federal financial disclosure form earlier this year to run for president, the Bidens listed only assets of between $1.5 million and $3.2 million. And that invites the question: Where did the rest of the money go?

"I can guarantee you if I was auditing those forms, I'd have questions," says Paul Miller, the owner of New York-based tax firm Miler & Company LLP. 

Part of the answer comes from the limitations of the form. The Bidens, like all candidates, don't have to list on the disclosure report their personal home in Wilmington, Del., against which for a long time they carried a mortgage and line of credit, totaling between $750,000 and $1.5 million, according to Biden's last financial disclosure form when he served as vice president in 2016. The current form shows those debts have been paid.

The Bidens also reported making more than $1 million in charitable contributions, including to the United Jewish Federation of Chicago, the Kingswood Community Center, $100,000 to Biden's own foundation and $150,000 to the foundation named for his late son, Beau.

But even after the debt, donations and expected taxes, Biden lists millions less in assets than his recent income would suggest.

Miller said he estimated — based on his review of Biden's income, his itemized deductions, and state and federal income taxes — that the Bidens should have listed around $9 million on their assets in their most recent disclosure forms.

"I am unable to document what he did with the difference of approximately $6 million," he said. "What else are we missing?"

Miller also noted that the Bidens purchased a Delaware beach house in 2017 for a reported $2.7 million; Biden also owns a house in Wilmington said to come in at around 7,000 square feet.

"It seems odd these assets are not on these documents," Miller said. 

The Biden campaign did not respond to requests for comment on his disclosure forms.

Biden's historically understated income has been a source of pride for the candidate for decades, with Biden at times touting his moniker "Middle Class Joe." Over the course of his Senate career, he was famous for taking the Amtrak from Delaware to Washington and back again every day, in part so that he could be with his family while still working on Capitol Hill.

The Biden family's financial records have come under greater scrutiny over the past week after a bombshell New York Post story revealed what appeared to be Hunter Biden's efforts to leverage access to his father during Biden's term as vice president. 

One email revealed what appeared to be an equity share arrangement in which "Big H," reportedly Hunter Biden, would receive a 10% payout to be delivered to "the big guy," allegedly Joe Biden himself. 

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