Hours before the first presidential debate on Tuesday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden released his 2019 tax returns and his campaign launched a tool to help voters quickly determine whether they pay more in federal income taxes than President Donald Trump—whose financial troubles and tax avoidance have been exposed in ongoing reporting by the New York Times.
The Times obtained over two decades of Trump's closely guarded tax return data and revealed in a bombshell report Sunday that the president—who presents himself as a self-made billionaire—was able to avoid paying any federal income taxes in 10 of the 15 years before his White House victory, due to massive business losses. In both 2016 and 2017, Trump paid just $750.
Taking advantage of the intense public criticism—along with speculation about future tax fraud charges and jail time—the president has faced due to the Times investigation, the Biden campaign launched the "Trump Tax Calculator." As the webpage explains: "Do you pay more or less in federal income taxes than our 'billionaire' president? Use this calculator to find out."
How much more did you pay in taxes than President Trump?
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 28, 2020
Voters and visitors to the webpage are encouraged to enter the amount they paid in taxes in 2017. Those who don't recall the dollar amount are reminded that "the average American pays $11,165.39." Anyone who enters that figure is informed: "You paid $10,415.39 more in taxes than Donald Trump, a 'billionaire.'"
"Mad?" the webpage asks. "Us too. Join our campaign to elect Joe Biden and make 'billionaires' like Donald Trump pay their fair share."
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The revelations about Trump's tax practices have provoked harsh critiques of not only the president but also a U.S. tax code that enables a wealthy businessman like him to pay less in taxes than teachers, nurses, or undocumented workers.
As The Hill reported:
The Biden campaign has seized on the Times report, with both Biden and his running mate, Sen.Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), releasing their 2019 tax returns on Tuesday afternoon. The returns showed that Biden and his wife Jill paid $299,349 in taxes last year, while Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff paid about $1,185,628.
"Trump's tax returns and what we learned from that reporting I think reinforces what we already knew about Donald Trump, which is that he looks down on working people," Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager and communications director, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "It reinforces how much of a choice there is in this campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue."
Biden tweeted Tuesday that "the American people deserve transparency from their leaders, it's why as of today, I've released 22 years of my tax returns."
The first debate between Biden and Trump is scheduled for 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm ET Tuesday at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News, the debate will be divided up into six 15-minute segments. It is set to stream online and on all major network and cable news channels.