Fact Check: Biden Net Worth Was NOT $41 Million in 2022 -- It's Roughly $10 Million

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Biden Net Worth Was NOT $41 Million in 2022 -- It's Roughly $10 Million Not That Rich

Did the combined net worth of President Joe Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris reach $69 million in 2022, or $41 million and $28 million respectively? No, that's not true: Posts on social media inflated the financial status of both families without providing any rationale for such statements. Compared to an average American, both Biden and Harris are more than just well off. But neither Biden nor Harris has reached the net worth falsely attributed to them. Based on available information both of them have been disclosing for decade as public servants, the combined net worth of Joe Biden and his spouse is about $10 million; the respective figure for Kamala Harris and her spouse is slightly over $8 million.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram on December 20, 2023. It opened:

Why is no one talking about this 🥴

The post contained an image listing Biden's 2022 net worth at $41 million and Harris' at $28 million.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-01-03 at 10.17.57 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Jan 3 15:17:57 2024 UTC)

The post did not contain any explanation of how its author arrived at the purported figures. The only reference to a source was a watermark seen on the bottom half of the picture. It was the name of a different account on social media whose name -- @ImMeme0 -- implied that it was not affiliated with financial institutions or credible media organizations.

Joe and Jill Biden

Net worth is typically a complex category. Investopedia (archived here) defines it as "the value of the assets a person or corporation owns, minus the liabilities they owe." In other words, it's not only the amount of cash one has available to spend.

In August 2023, Forbes (archived here) estimated Biden's net worth at $10 million. According to the magazine, it grew by $2 million, compared to the time when he took office. But the increase -- as well as nearly three-quarters of Biden's net worth -- comes from the value of his properties. Forbes wrote:

... he is getting richer by doing what a lot of 80-year-old Americans are doing: sitting on real estate. The president owns two homes in Delaware that are worth an estimated $7 million combined, $1.8 million more than they were when he took office.

The 2022 disclosure form (archived here), which is the most recent one published by the White House, details the 46th president's income. It explicitly says that he got no presents or travel reimbursements during the previous year and that his business activities are limited to royalties from previously published books. The disclosure form also lists four loans: two mortgages, one loan against an insurance policy and one loan with a home used as collateral.

Reuters (archived here) reported that the additional income of the first family went down slightly in 2022, mostly due to a decrease in royalties:

Biden earned between $2,500 and $5,000 in book royalties in 2022, down sharply from $30,000 a year earlier. He also earned less than $3,000 in 'speaking and writing engagements,' from close to $30,000 last year, the disclosures show.

The disclosures, which included First Lady Jill Biden's income, showed her book royalties also dropped. She earned between $5,000- $15,000 in 2022 compared to $15,000- $50,000 from book sales a year earlier.

While the disclosure forms do not include precise figures on some lines and only give a range, tax returns do.

In 2022, Joe and Jill Biden, who filed jointly, reported a federal adjusted gross income of $579,514 (archived here). As the White House press release specifies, they paid "$169,820 in combined federal, Delaware, and Virginia income taxes," and their effective federal income rate was 23.8 percent.

That year's publicly available tax return (archived here) shows on page 22 that most of the first family's income is their salaries: $400,000 made by Joe Biden as president and $82,335 made by his spouse as an English teacher. The lines describing "pensions and annuities" and Social Security benefits on page 1 add up to an additional $35,409 and $58,465 respectively. Also, the first family donated roughly $20,000 to different charities (on page 24).

Biden, who has worked as an elected official for decades, has been disclosing his income for the past 25 years (archived here.) Had there been a significant -- or unusual -- increase in the cash flow, it would have drawn the attention of major media organizations. However, a Google search (archived here) shows that reports mentioning Biden's name and the amount of $41 million discuss other things, unrelated to the first family's income.

Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff

Just like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris is married, and this is a factor that is important to consider while looking at the known information about her reported income because she also files tax returns jointly.

In August 2019, months before Biden and his running mate were elected, Forbes (archived here) wrote that the net worth of the soon-to-be second family was about $6 million:

Their assets include homes in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco worth an estimated $5.8 million before debt. There are also retirement accounts worth at least $1.4 million. And two capital accounts tied to law firms where Emhoff has worked, worth at least $1 million.

As reported by the Guardian (archived here), in 2021 and 2020, Harris and her husband reported income exceeding what the Bidens made. Yet, that wouldn't be enough to bring them to the alleged net worth of $28 million:

Harris and the so-called second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, reported a federal adjusted gross income of about $1.7m in 2021, which was about the same they claimed to have earned the prior year.

Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, cited an income of nearly $611,000 [in 2021], about $4,000 more than they made in 2020, said their tax documents, which were released by the White House.

In 2021, Forbes (archived here) estimated that, at the time, Harris' net worth reached $7 million but that was mostly because of her husband's earnings.

In 2022, she also disclosed her tax return (archived here). That year's federal adjusted gross income reported by the vice president and her husband was $456,918. They paid over $108,000 in federal and local taxes.

Most of the couple's income came from their salaries:

Screen Shot 2024-01-03 at 1.13.54 PM.png

(Source: White House screenshot taken on Wed Jan 3 18:13:54 2023 UTC)

Additionally, Harris reported $74,772 made as a writer (as seen on Schedule C on page 9 of her tax return). That is for previously published books, as her 2022 financial disclosure form (archived here) specifies.

Just like Joe Biden, Harris has a long history of public disclosure of her family's finances: In her case, it's almost two decades (archived here.)

In 2022, the AP wrote (archived here) that the highest estimate of the second family's total assets is $8.29 million and they had a mortgage ranging between $1 million and $5 million.

Other Lead Stories fact checks mentioning Joe Biden can be found here. Stories mentioning Kamala Harris are here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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