Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife made an adjusted gross income of nearly $1 million but gave just $14,700 to charity, or just under 1.5%, according to their 2019 tax return.
The average giving for a comparable income level is 8.3%, studies of philanthropic giving show.
Biden and running mate Kamala Harris both shared their 2019 tax returns ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate, days after a New York Times report claimed President Trump paid just $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017 and, in other years, paid nothing.
Biden’s 2019 tax return, which describes his occupation as “executive,” shows he paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year, or about 30% of his $985,000 adjusted gross income. He gave to two churches, among other beneficiaries.
Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, paid $1.19 million in federal taxes on about $3.1 million in income in 2019. They reported giving $35,000 to charity, just over 1%, including to Harris’s alma mater, Howard University.
In 2008, a report by ABC News said that Biden donated an average of $369 to charity a year. According to his tax returns, Biden gave just $70,000 to charity in the two decades leading up to 2017, Forbes wrote last year.
This changed dramatically in 2017, when the Bidens gave away more than $1 million to 26 causes, including to the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children ($150,000) and the Joseph Biden Foundation ($100,000). Biden that year made large sums from a book and speaking engagements.
While Trump has so far refused to release his tax returns, which would make a faithful accounting of his donations possible, he told reporters on Sunday that he may do so once an audit fight with the Internal Revenue Service was complete. The audit concerns a $72.9 million refund for taxes paid by Trump in 2005 through 2008.
According to research shared by the Philanthropy Roundtable, “religious practice is the behavioral variable most consistently associated with generous giving.” The demographic characteristic most likely to increase charitable giving is marriage, data from the government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey shows.
Data from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University shows that 97% of wealthy households give annually, some modestly, and others “copiously.”
Trump, a billionaire, in August gave $100,000 of his 2020 salary to the National Park Service to help pay for repairs on national monuments, the second time in three years that he has donated part of his earnings to the park service.
On Aug. 14, Trump tweeted, “I promised YOU I would not take a dime of salary as your President. I donate the entire $400,000!” along with a picture of the check to the park service dated July 13.
“It is my honor to give $100,000 to @NatlParkService to help repair and restore our GREAT National Monuments,” he added. “So important to our American History! Thank You!!”
While in office, he has given his $400,000 annual salary to a range of federal agencies, among them, the Agriculture Department and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
On Jan. 29, Trump gave $100,000, his salary from the fourth quarter of 2019, to the Department of Health and Human Services to help fight the coronavirus.
He gave $78,333 to help pay for the restoration of a historic house at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland, in 2017.
Trump has long boasted of his charitable giving, but his refusal to release his tax returns makes his claims impossible to verify. In 2016, this became a campaign issue after the Washington Post reported that the outlet failed to find a single cash donation made personally by Trump over the five-year stretch prior.
A website, TheGivingTrump.com, attempts to catalog his reported contributions dating back to 1966, when, as a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Trump “helped start the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. International Freedom Games,” according to a 2011 report in the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation gave away $10.9 million from 2001 to 2014, according to a Forbes analysis of IRS documents, the single largest beneficiary of which was New York City’s Police Athletic League. The foundation gave, too, to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a New York Times-run nonprofit group.