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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, right, and former President Barack Obama greet each other with an air elbow bump, at a rally in Flint, Mich., Oct. 31, 2020. (AP) Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, right, and former President Barack Obama greet each other with an air elbow bump, at a rally in Flint, Mich., Oct. 31, 2020. (AP)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, right, and former President Barack Obama greet each other with an air elbow bump, at a rally in Flint, Mich., Oct. 31, 2020. (AP)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy October 31, 2020

Yes, Joe Biden has released 22 years of tax returns online

If Your Time is short

  • Biden’s tax returns from 2019 to 1998 are available in different places online. That amounts to 22 years worth of the financial documents.

  • Trump has not released his tax returns, citing a pending audit.

In a Halloween-day pitch to voters in Flint, Mich., former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Donald Trump over the New York Times’ reporting on his long-concealed tax returns, which revealed that Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in both 2017 and 2016.

"Why should you pay more in taxes than Donald Trump?" Biden said at the event with former President Barack Obama. "He paid $750 in taxes the one year we know of. He’s yet to release. I’ve released 22 years of my tax returns. You can go online and look. He hasn’t released one." 

"He talks about corruption," Biden continued. "What is he hiding?"

The Democratic presidential nominee’s 22-years claim is accurate. He has made it before, including ahead of the first presidential debate, when he made public his 2019 tax returns.

The Biden campaign website lists Biden’s federal and state tax returns for 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. It also lists Biden’s financial disclosure documents for 2020 and 2019 and the 2019 tax returns for his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and her husband.

The returns show Biden and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $288,000 in federal income taxes in 2019.

RELATED: Biden’s income sources aren’t such a big mystery

Biden’s tax returns for the previous eight years, covering the rest of his two terms as Obama’s vice president, can be found in archived press releases from the Obama White House. Those included tax returns released for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008

Featured Fact-check

Asked for the remaining 10 years’ worth of filings, the Biden campaign pointed to an archived Q&A from Obama’s 2008 campaign website, which linked to many years of Biden’s tax returns from his decades-long stint as a U.S. senator representing Delaware. The page included tax returns from 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, and 1998

The 22 years of Biden tax returns are also available as part of an archive maintained by Tax Notes.

Trump has not released his tax returns, breaking a promise he made during his 2016 campaign. According to the New York Times, the former real estate mogul and reality TV star has vowed for nearly a decade to release his tax returns under different conditions, but he hasn’t delivered.

Trump is the only president or major-party presidential nominee in decades to keep his returns hidden from the public. Efforts by Congress and others to get hold of them have so far been unsuccessful.

Trump has cited a pending Internal Revenue Service audit as reason for not publishing his tax returns. The IRS, however, has said nothing precludes a president from releasing tax returns while under audit — as President Richard Nixon did. Trump has also claimed, falsely, that his financial disclosures offer a more extensive picture of his finances. 

In recent years, the New York Times has obtained tax records and pieced together a more complete picture of Trump’s tax history. In September, the Times reported that Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in both 2017 and 2016, and none at all in several years before that. 

Trump has provided no evidence to suggest that he’s paid more in taxes than the Times found. Tax experts said the complex tax history depicted by the Times report shows unusually aggressive tax avoidance and exceptionally persistent losses. 

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Our ruling

Biden said, "I’ve released 22 years of my tax returns. You can go online and look. (Donald Trump) hasn’t released one."

Biden’s federal tax returns from 2019 dating back to 1998 are available online, as he claimed. The most recent returns are highlighted on his campaign website. Others can be found on the websites for the Obama White House and the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.

Trump has not publicly released his tax returns, making him the only president or major-party presidential nominee in decades who has not done so. 

We rate Biden’s claim True.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Our Sources

Joe Biden on YouTube, "Joe Biden and President Barack Obama Speak LIVE in Flint, Michigan | Joe Biden For President 2020," Oct. 31, 2020

Joe Biden for President, "Financial Disclosures and Tax Returns," accessed Oct. 31, 2020

Obama for America, "Have Senator Biden and Dr. Jill Biden released their tax returns for the last ten years?" accessed via the Internet Archive Oct. 31, 2020

Tax Notes, "Presidential Tax Returns," accessed Oct. 31, 2020

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden's 2015 Tax Returns," April 15, 2016

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s 2014 Tax Returns," April 10, 2015

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s 2013 Tax Returns," April 11, 2014

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s 2012 Tax Returns," April 12, 2013

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s 2011 Tax Returns," April 13, 2012

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Tax Returns and Tax Receipts," April 18, 2011

The White House of President Barack Obama, "President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Tax Returns," April 15, 2010

The White House of President Barack Obama, "Release of the President and Vice President’s Tax Returns," April 15, 2009

The New York Times, "The President’s Taxes: A Reader’s Guide," Oct. 31, 2020

The Associated Press, "Biden releases 2019 taxes as pre-debate contrast with Trump," Sept. 29, 2020

Joe Biden on Twitter, Sept. 29, 2020

The New York Times, "Trump on Releasing His Tax Returns: From ‘Absolutely’ to ‘Political Prosecution,'" July 9, 2020

The New York Times, "Vice President Biden's 2008 Income Tax Returns," April 15, 2009

PolitiFact, "Biden’s income sources aren’t such a big mystery," Oct. 22, 2020

PolitiFact, "Experts say Trump tax report shows aggressive tax avoidance, unusually persistent losses," Sept. 30, 2020

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking Joe Biden’s claim about his own income," Sept. 10, 2020

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump’s tax returns: How Congress might — or might not — get them," April 9, 2019

PolitiFact, "Trump 'might' release returns 'when I'm out of office,'" May 12, 2017

PolitiFact, "Trump wrong that Americans don't care about his tax returns," Jan. 11, 2017

PolitiFact, "Tim Kaine correctly notes Richard Nixon released tax returns despite audit," Oct. 5, 2016

PolitiFact, "Pence's False claim that Trump 'hasn't broken' tax return promise," Oct. 5, 2020

PolitiFact, "Is Donald Trump the only major-party nominee in 40 years not to release his tax returns?" Sept. 28, 2016

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump says his financial disclosures more than make up for lack of releasing tax returns," Sept. 7, 2016

Email correspondence with the Biden campaign, Oct. 31, 2020

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Yes, Joe Biden has released 22 years of tax returns online

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