Thursday, April 18, 2024

Joe and Jill Biden Undermine Social Security and Medicare. Again.

As they have in previous years, President Biden made a theatrical show of releasing the income tax returns of him and his wife Jill on Tax Day. And as in previous years, the corporate press once again did a lousy job of pointing out an important theme concerning the Bidens’ finances.

For someone who spends much of his time purporting to defend Medicare and Social Security, Joe Biden hasn’t made any steps to put his own money where his mouth is. And given all the times Biden himself uses the phrase “show me your budget—and I’ll tell you what you value,” one would think someone in the corporate media would ask questions about why the Biden family budget doesn’t align with their political values.

Tax Loophole Undermines Medicare

These pages have chronicled how in prior years, Joe Biden and his wife Jill set up S-corporations through which they funneled their earnings from books and speaking engagements. By characterizing those earnings as corporate profits rather than wages, they have avoided more than $523,000 in payroll taxes since 2017 — taxes that fund a combination of Medicare, Obamacare, and Social Security.

In 2023, Biden’s S-corporation, the CelticCapri Corporation, reported no income — perhaps because “Bidenflation” has eroded American families’ ability to spend money on relative luxuries like Biden’s book. But Jill Biden’s business, the Giacoppa Corporation, reported $4,115 in income, which the Bidens subtracted from their payroll tax obligations. (See the top of page 11 here.)

In 2023, Jill Biden’s teaching salary of $85,985 lay well below last year’s Social Security wage cap of $160,200. That means that had the $4,115 been reported as wages rather than profits from the Giacoppa Corporation, Jill Biden would have had to pay $666.63 more in taxes — $119.33 for Medicare (2.9 percent of $4,115), $510.26 for Social Security (12.4 percent of $4,115), and $37.04 for the Obamacare surtax (0.9 percent of $4,115).

Of course, compared to the roughly $500,000 the Bidens dodged in taxes in 2017 and 2018, these numbers seem like small beer. But it speaks to how the president and his wife have little interest in practicing what they preach when it comes to “tax fairness.”

Why Claim Social Security?

While Joe Biden did not benefit last year from the “S-corporation loophole” his administration now wants to close, another item on his tax returns — one the press also tends to ignore — stands out. In 2023, the Bidens claimed $64,254 in Social Security benefits — $42,842 for Joe Biden and $21,412 for Jill Biden.

On the one hand, it makes sense that our oldest president and his wife would both claim Social Security. One article that dug into Biden’s old tax filings suggests that Biden first started claiming Social Security benefits when he turned 66, his full retirement age.

But while Joe and Jill Biden certainly can claim Social Security legally, should they? If Biden began claiming benefits upon turning 66, in late November 2008, he would have been vice president-elect, with a guaranteed government job for the next four years. Did Biden and his wife need that income, when as vice president, during an interregnum out of office from 2017 through early 2021, or while president currently?

The answer is obvious: No. Biden made millions after he left the vice presidency, such that he would never need to work again. (A sad commentary on how holding office allows the ruling class to enrich itself, but I digress.)

Unlike the Bidens’ tax-dodging practices, which have drawn scrutiny for their questionable legality, I won’t dispute that Joe and Jill Biden have a right to claim their Social Security benefits. But as the saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. If Biden won’t put forward a plan to make Social Security solvent over the long term — and he hasn’t, because of the magnitude of the tax increases that would entail — then at least he could stop making the situation worse by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits he doesn’t, and won’t, need to live comfortably in retirement (whenever he finally gets there).

Complex Tax System

A final item of note from the Bidens’ 2023 returns: The first family had to pay $285 in penalties to the Internal Revenue Service for underpaying their taxes during the last calendar year. Apparently, the Bidens didn’t discover they needed to make quarterly estimated payments of their tax liability until it was too late.

To put it another way: The tax code is so complex that the president himself can’t avoid incurring penalties. That’s something worth bearing in mind the next time Biden or congressional Democrats call for raising taxes still further.

This post was originally published at The Federalist.