Joe Biden’s ObamaCare Tax Avoidance


Joe and Jill Biden after the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Sept. 29.



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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Joe Biden slammed President Trump at Tuesday’s debate for both his tax policies and his personal tax management: “The tax code that put him in a position that he pays less tax than on the money a schoolteacher makes,” Mr. Biden said, “is because of him.” The reference was to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Mr. Trump signed in 2017.

The challenger also vigorously defended the Affordable Care Act, promising to “expand ObamaCare” and faulting Mr. Trump for supporting a legal challenge to it. “ObamaCare is personal to me,” Mr. Biden declares in a campaign ad.

Yet Mr. Biden has taken advantage of the tax code to avoid paying the taxes that fund ObamaCare. I reported in August that in 2017 and 2018 Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, characterized large amounts of book and speaking income as corporate profits rather than taxable wages, allowing them to circumvent Medicare and ObamaCare payroll taxes, of 2.9% and 0.9% respectively, on that income. The Bidens released their 2019 tax return before the debate, and again they use this dodge.

The Bidens paid federal income taxes on all their earnings. But they avoided payroll taxes on the portion of income characterized as corporate profits—$228,703 in 2019, and a total of more than $13.5 million since Mr. Biden left office in 2017. All told, the Bidens have avoided paying more than $513,000 in payroll taxes.

In a 2019 report, the liberal Center for American Progress complained that “the current tax code allows many high-income individuals to avoid Medicare taxes on their business income (including, in some cases, labor income that is mischaracterized as business profits).” Another CAP report said that closing such “loopholes” would “raise close to $300 billion over 10 years.”

Mr. Biden stretched the truth in attributing Mr. Trump’s tax maneuvers to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It didn’t take effect until 2018, and the Trump tax returns covered in recent press reports go up only to 2017. But the act did repeal ObamaCare’s individual-mandate penalty, a regressive tax on the uninsured. In the past three years, meanwhile, the Bidens avoided paying $121,000 in ObamaCare payroll taxes alone.

Mr. Jacobs is founder and CEO of Juniper Research Group.

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