For Biden Family, a History of Tax Problems

Hunter Biden hit with $450,000 tax lien last month, the latest in a series of tax problems for Biden family members

U.S Vice President Joe Biden Visits China
Then-vice president Joe Biden, granddaughter Finnegan Biden, and son Hunter Biden visit Beijing in 2013 / Getty Images
August 8, 2020

Hunter Biden was hit with a $450,000 lien in July over delinquent state income taxes, which he paid off in six days despite having no discernible income. Last year, he told the court judge in his paternity case that he was broke and unemployed.

The younger Biden owed $238,562.76 in state income taxes from 2017 and $215,328.16 in state income taxes from 2018, according to records from the District of Columbia’s Office of Tax and Revenue. The District of Columbia filed a $453,890 lien against him on July 9.

The lien is the latest in a series of substantial tax problems members of the Biden family have faced over the years, from Joe's brother James’s six-figure tax debt in 2015 to multiple liens filed against Joe's sister Valerie and her husband. It also raises new questions about Hunter Biden’s finances, which have been scrutinized during the election cycle. The lien follows controversy over Hunter's high-paying consulting work for companies in Ukraine and China, and a high-profile child support case in which the younger Biden claimed he was in "significant debt" and refused to turn over court-ordered financial records.

A spokesman for D.C.'s Office of the Chief Financial Officer confirmed that Hunter Biden’s lien was released on July 15 after the "tax issue was resolved." The office declined to say whether Biden had paid off the debt.

Harvey Bezozi, a tax expert who specializes in large-scale tax debt negotiations, said the only way to get a lien released is to pay the settlement in full—often through a payment plan, penalty abatement, or other compromise with the government—or to prove the lien was filed in error. He said liens can take months or years to resolve.

"It drags on," he said. "Six days had to be some kind of expeditious kind of process for this."

Bezozi said the government rarely files liens in error. "Generally the lien filing process is a very stringent and reviewed approach because it’s a serious thing when you file a lien. It’s public record," he said.

The Biden campaign did not respond to questions about how Hunter Biden settled the debt in less than a week and whether he has found gainful employment.

The Biden family has been hit with several tax liens over the past few decades.

James Biden has had at least five tax liens filed against him between 1995 and 2015, including one for $589,095 filed in 2015 and released one year later. Frank Biden, another brother of the presidential candidate, has had at least three liens for unpaid income taxes. He said in 2011 that a $32,500 lien in Kentucky stemmed from his struggle with alcohol addiction and was being paid off through a monthly plan, according to the Broward Palm Beach New Times. Joe Biden’s sister Valerie and her husband John Owens have faced at least five tax liens, including one for $229,749 in 1990.

This is also not the first time Hunter Biden has been accused of owing back taxes. In 2018, the federal government filed a $112,805 tax lien against him. He resolved that matter in March, according to records.

Hunter Biden’s finances have come under scrutiny due to work the younger Biden did for foreign entities while his father was vice president. He has fought to keep his financial information out of the public record, defying a court order to turn over his full 2017 and 2018 tax returns and arguing that his financial records should be subject to a nondisclosure agreement and encrypted during a paternity lawsuit last year.

Lunden Alexis Roberts, the mother of Hunter Biden's two-year-old child, sued Biden for child support payments in Arkansas in 2019. Biden, a former lobbyist, claimed in a court filing related to that case that he was deeply in debt and had no source of income for more than six months.

"I attest that I am unemployed and have had no monthly income since May 2019," said Biden in a Nov. 27, 2019, affidavit. "I currently have significant debts (in part as a result of obligations arising from my divorce which was final in April 2017)."

Although Biden claimed that he was broke, he was living in a $12,000-per-month Hollywood Hills rental home and spotted driving a $129,000 Porsche Panamera in Beverly Hills. After a judge ordered Biden to turn over his financial records and travel to Arkansas for a deposition, the former lobbyist agreed to settle the case with Roberts.

Biden has held lucrative positions at foreign companies. He was reportedly paid up to $50,000 a month to sit on the board of directors for Ukrainian energy giant Burisma between 2014 and last year and served on the board of BHR Partners, the $1.5 billion international private equity arm of Chinese investment fund Bohai Capital.

Biden stepped down from both boards last year, according to his lawyer. He told the New Yorker last summer that as part of his 2017 divorce agreement he had offered to pay his ex-wife Kathleen $37,000 per month for a decade. He said he was living on about $4,000 per month and was forced to max out his credit cards, which the magazine described as an "adjustment."

Biden’s ex-wife said in a 2017 divorce filing that Hunter Biden had left the family in massive debt after blowing their money on "drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs and gifts for women with whom he had sexual relations."

"Mr. Biden has created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests … while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills," said Kathleen Biden in the court filing.

She said the family’s debts were "shocking and overwhelming," including a $313,000 tax delinquency, maxed out credit cards, unpaid medical bills, and bounced checks to housekeepers.

Published under: Hunter Biden , Joe Biden