"Middle-class Joe" became "Rich Joe" after his 44 years in government came to an end, according to tax returns released by Joe Biden's campaign. The returns reveal that Joe and Jill Biden made more than $15 million in the two years after he left office—$11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018—most of it from book deals and speaking engagements, Politico reports. Biden, who spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming vice president, used to joke about being the "poorest man in Congress" and regularly speaks about his ordinary upbringing in Pennsylvania and Delaware on the campaign trail. In their 2016 tax return, the Bidens reported income of $396,456, most of it from Joe Biden's salary as vice president and Jill Biden's salary as a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
His wealth could become a "particularly thorny issue" for Biden, who often speaks out against income inequality, though Democratic rivals including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are also millionaires, reports the New York Times. The tax returns released by the campaign show that the Bidens paid an income tax rate of 33.9% in 2017 and 33.4% in 2018. They donated a total of $1.3 million to charity over the two-year period. The Hill reports Biden has the highest income out of the leading Democratic contenders. In second place is Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband, who reported almost $1.9 million in income for 2018. ("Billionaire activist" Tom Steyer joined the race on Tuesday.)