Biden and Trump tout very different tax policies—and personal wealth—as Tax Day arrives



Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern: The presidential candidates have conflicting ideas about how much to reveal about their own finances and the best ways to boost the economy through tax policy.

Biden, the sitting Democratic president, plans to release his income tax returns on Monday, the IRS filing deadline. And on Tuesday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania, about why the wealthy should pay more in taxes to reduce the federal deficit and help fund programs for the poor and middle class.

Biden is proud to say that he was largely without money for much of his decades-long career in public service, unlike Trump, who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his father and used his billionaire status to launch a TV show and later a presidential campaign.

“For 36 years, I was listed as the poorest man in Congress,” Biden told donors in California in February. “Not a joke.”

In 2015, Trump declared as part of his candidacy, “I’m really rich.”

The Republican former president has argued that voters have no need to see his tax data and that past financial disclosures are more than sufficient. He maintains that keeping taxes low for the wealthy will supercharge investment and lead to more jobs, while tax hikes would crush an economy still recovering from inflation that hit a four-decade peak in 2022.

“Biden wants to give the IRS even more cash by proposing the largest tax hike on the American people in history when they are already being robbed by his record-high inflation crisis,” said Karoline Leavitt, press secretary for the Trump campaign.

The split goes beyond an ideological difference to a very real challenge for whoever triumphs in the November election. At the end of 2025, many of the tax cuts that Trump signed into law in 2017 will expire — setting up an avalanche of choices about how much people across the income spectrum should pay as the national debt is expected to climb to unprecedented levels.

Including interest costs, extending all the tax breaks could add another $3.8 trillion to the national debt through 2033, according to an analysis last year by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Biden would like to keep the majority of the tax breaks, based on his pledge that no one earning less than $400,000 will have to pay more. But he released a budget proposal this year with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations that would raise $4.9 trillion in revenues and trim forecasted deficits by $3.2 trillion over 10 years.

Still, he’s telling voters that he’s all for letting the Trump-era tax cuts lapse.

“Does anyone here think the tax code is fair? Raise your hand,” Biden said Tuesday at a speech in Washington’s Union Station to a crowd predisposed to dislike Trump’s broad tax cuts that helped many in the middle class but disproportionately favored wealthier households.

“It added more to the national debt than any presidential term in history,” Biden continued. “And it’s due to expire next year. And guess what? I hope to be president because it expires — it’s going to stay expired.”

Trump has called for higher tariffs on foreign-made goods, which are taxes that could hit consumers in the form of higher prices. But his campaign is committed to tax cuts while promising that a Trump presidency would reduce a national debt that has risen for decades, including during his Oval Office tenure.

“When President Trump is back in the White House, he will advocate for more tax cuts for all Americans and reinvigorate America’s energy industry to bring down inflation, lower the cost of living, and pay down our debt,” Leavitt said.

Most economists say Trump’s tax cuts could not generate enough growth to pay down the national debt. An analysis released Friday by Oxford Economics found that a “full-blown Trump” policy with tax cuts, higher tariffs and blocking immigration would slow growth and increase inflation.

Among Biden’s proposals is a “billionaire minimum income tax” that would apply a minimum rate of 25% on households with a net worth of at least $100 million.

The tax would directly target billionaires such as Trump, who refused to release his personal taxes as presidents have traditionally done. But six years of his tax returns were released in 2022 by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

In 2018, Trump earned more than $24 million and paid about 4% of that in federal income taxes. The congressional panel also found that the IRS delayed legally mandated audits of Trump during his presidency, with the panel concluding the audit process was ” dormant, at best.”

Biden has publicly released more than two decades of his tax returns. In 2022, he and his wife, Jill, made $579,514 and paid nearly 24% of that in federal income taxes, more than double the rate paid by Trump.

Trump has maintained that his tax records are complicated because of his use of various tax credits and past business losses, which in some cases have allowed him to avoid taxes. He also previously declined to release his tax returns under the claim that the IRS was auditing him for pre-presidential filings.

His finances recently received a boost from the stock market debut of Trump Media, which controls Trump’s preferred social media outlet, Truth Social. Share prices initially surged, adding billions of dollars to Trump’s net worth, but investors have since soured on the company and shares by Friday were down more than 50% from their peak.

The former president is also on the hook for $542 million due to legal judgments in a civil fraud case and penalties owed to the writer E. Jean Carroll because of statements made by Trump that damaged her reputation after she accused him of sexual assault.

In the civil fraud case, New York Judge Arthur Engoron looked at the financial records of the Trump Organization and concluded after looking at the inflated assets that “the frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.”



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