As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off during their inaugural presidential debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29, viewers tuned in to watch the pair argue their thoughts on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, racial unrest in a number of cities, and the president's taxes. Following a lengthy legal battle to keep his tax records private from the public eye and the subsequent publication of a damaging special report from The New York Times that cast doubt on Trump's image as a successful business mogul, his opponent did not hold back when bringing up the story during the debate. Joe Biden's quote about Trump's taxes went all in on his political opponent with a simple but effective retort.
On Sept. 27, the New York Times released a report on Trump's much-sought after tax returns, revealing that he had reportedly paid only $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017. He also reportedly paid no income taxes at all for the previous ten years due to financial losses, despite touting his prowess as a businessman as a qualification to be president. The Times also reported that the president owed over $400 million in personal debts. In a statement to Elite Daily, the White House called the report "just more fake news" and characterized it as a "politically-motivated hit piece."
Unsurprisingly, Biden didn't hesitate to bring up the findings of the report. After Wallace asked Trump if it was true that he had paid $750 in income taxes for those years, Trump contested, "I paid millions of dollars of taxes. I paid $38 million one year." When Wallace pushed further, asking "Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?" Trump responded, "Millions of dollars. And you'll get to see it."
Biden's response was short and sweet: "When?"
In the days leading up to his highly-anticipated showdown with the president, Biden showed he wouldn't shy away from using the findings of the report for campaign ammunition. Shortly after the Times story broke, the former vice president started selling merchandise with the words, "I pay more income taxes than Donald Trump" and he tweeted a video comparing the paltry income tax amount Trump reportedly paid during the first and second year of his presidency as a billionaire — just $750, according to the report — to those paid by everyday Americans.
Alongside a 30-second video shared on Twitter, the Biden campaign wrote, "Teachers paid $7,239. Firefighters paid $5,283. Nurses paid $10,216. Donald Trump paid $750."
For his part, Trump has called the report "fake news," saying at a Sunday news conference, "First of all, I paid a lot and I paid a lot of state income taxes, too. New York state charges a lot and I paid a lot of money in state. It will all be revealed." However, he did not specify if he will be releasing his tax returns.
With subsequent debates scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, it's likely things will continue to heat up and viewers will see more issues come to the forefront of the political battle.