Joe and Jill Biden made more than $15 million in two years after leaving the White House, tax returns show

Key Points
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill made more than $15 million in the two years after the former vice president left office. 
  • Biden easily made the most money last year among Democratic presidential candidates who have released their tax returns so far. 
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, wave to the crowd during his 2020 campaign kickoff rally at the Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Pa., on Saturday, May 18, 2019.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

Joe Biden and his wife Jill earned more than $15 million in the two years after the former vice president left the Obama administration, according to tax returns released by his presidential campaign Tuesday.

The couple reported about $11 million in adjusted gross income in 2017, the documents from 2016 through 2018 show. They followed it up with another $4.6 million in adjusted gross income last year. Their income spiked from about $396,000 in 2016.

The Bidens paid about $3.7 million and $1.5 in taxes for 2017 and 2018, respectively — about a third of their adjusted gross income. They gave roughly $1 million and $275,000 to charity in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Biden easily raked in the most money in the past two years among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who have released tax returns so far. After the former vice president left the White House in January 2017, the Bidens pulled in millions from Joe Biden's speaking engagements and books written by both Joe and Jill Biden.

The money Biden accumulated after his decadeslong career as an elected official clash with the image he has tried to craft as a humble champion of the working and middle class. The former senator from Delaware has referred to himself as "Middle-Class Joe" and touted his efforts to lift up union workers and low-income families.

I would eliminate Donald Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy: Joe Biden

The two dozen candidates trying to challenge President Donald Trump next year have broadly preached a pro-worker message and lashed out at corporations during their campaigns. Other major candidates — from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. — have reported recent spikes in income as they run for president.

In a statement Tuesday, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates disputed that Biden's newfound wealth would affect his goals. He said the former vice president "grew up in a blue collar family that was forced to move away from home in order to make ends meet."

"Fighting for working families has been the defining cause of Joe Biden's life and the first event of his campaign was hosted at a Pennsylvania union hall where he blasted Donald Trump's tax breaks for the rich and big corporations," Bates said. "He's running to restore the American middle class, with everybody -- regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation -- in on the deal this time."

The couple primarily made its money from book deals. Joe and Jill Biden reported about $10 million in 2017 income from CelticCapri and Giacoppa, S-corporations paid for their book deals and speaking engagements. The 2017 Republican tax cuts — backed by Trump and slammed across the 2020 Democratic field — gave a new 20% tax break to owners of S corporations and other entities.

The Bidens made about $3.2 million from the same businesses in 2018.

Joe Biden's book, "Promise Me, Dad," came out in November 2017, more than two years after his son Beau died. Jill Biden's book, "Where the Light Enters," was released in May.

The former vice president got paid five or six figures for more than 40 speaking engagements during 2017 and 2018, according to a separate financial disclosure form filed by his campaign. He took in as much as $190,000 for a lecture at Drew University in New Jersey in March 2018.

During both 2017 and 2018, Joe Biden was the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Jill Biden taught at Northern Virginia Community College. They reported about $461,000 and $500,000 in income from teaching in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

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