Hunter Biden had a top-notch income and a lavish lifestyle. But he struggled with tax issues for years
By Curt Devine, Scott Glover, Kara Scannell and Evan Perez, CNN
In the fall of 2018, Hunter Biden received a rapid succession of emails from his accountant: they were all about his taxes.
“They’re late,” Bill Morgan told his client in October, noting that Biden had missed an already extended Oct. 15 deadline.
“Your 2017 tax returns still haven’t been filed,” the accountant reminded Biden two weeks later.
“You need to file 2017 so we can try to work out a payment schedule,” he added the next day.
Morgan also noted in that email that Biden’s aide sent him a copy of an IRS notice from 2015. “They want $158,000,” the accountant wrote. “The IRS has notified the Department of State and they will not be renewing your passport until this issue is resolved.”
Welcome to the dysfunctional world of Hunter Biden’s finances. While the general subject of the president’s son’s financial troubles has been widely reported, details surrounding his past filings may offer insight into some of the areas federal investigators are looking into as part of an ongoing investigation into other cases. possible tax violations and other crimes which is approaching a critical moment. Prosecutors, sources say, could make a decision soon on whether to bring criminal charges against the president’s son.
Hunter Biden’s legal danger has been taken advantage of by Republicans seeking to accuse his father, President Joe Biden, of being complicit in his alleged wrongdoings. Republicans expect, if they regain control of the House, to investigate the Biden family through committees they will control.
Biden denied any wrongdoing and said he cooperated with investigators. Her father is not involved in the ongoing federal investigation, according to people briefed on the matter.
CNN has hired a cybercrime expert to help authenticate a cache of emails related to Hunter Biden’s finances that were posted on the internet by a former Trump White House aide that allegedly traced a laptop that crashed. is shown at a Delaware repair shop.
The information from the laptop has fueled countless stories about Biden’s drug abuse, alleged sexual indiscretions and money troubles, many of which CNN — and other outlets — haven’t been in. able to verify. Biden has not directly commented on the authenticity of the emails or the stories on which they are based. He told CBS News last year that he didn’t know if the laptop was his.
Jake Williams, a former National Security Agency agent who analyzed the emails for CNN, said he was able to authenticate a subset of the emails because they contained verified signatures in their metadata. which showed that they had not been modified. Only emails that he has authenticated are cited in this report.
Williams, who previously reviewed laptop data for The Washington Post, said the majority of emails he reviewed for CNN could not be verified because they lacked sufficient technical data necessary for the verification process. validation, among other reasons.
CNN’s review of the emails showed Biden had struggled with tax issues for years and his accountant at times seemed unable to keep up with Biden’s flow of money. In an email, his accountant raised a question about a receipt for $550,000, asking whether it should be recorded as a loan or income from Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Biden sat. No response from Biden is posted on this email chain.
Biden received up to $50,000 a month for serving on Burisma’s board from 2014 to 2019, according to a Republican-led Senate report on his business activities.
Despite that lavish income, Biden’s debts piled up, even as he received repeated warnings from his bank, accountant and others.
“Insufficient funds,” read an automated Wells Fargo email Biden received in December 2018 that said one of his accounts was $1,700 short for a payment on a Porsche. Other bank alerts that year warned that Biden’s checking account had a “low balance” and that one of his credit cards had exceeded its “preset amount” of $65,000.
Attempts to charge another credit card were repeatedly declined due to insufficient funds, as evidenced by multiple emails in 2018 and 2019.
“I’m trying to figure out what to do with the bills,” an email from Biden’s aide sent her on Dec. 28, 2018. She listed a series of payments Biden owed, including health insurance, a payment car and salary.
“Paying for health care. Pay the Porsche,” Biden replied, though he said she should pay herself half the salary owed to her. Biden also complained that someone else was still getting a cut of what he said was personally owed to him by Burisma. “So there’s not a lot of income these days,” he told her.
As of March 2019, Biden’s bills, debts and back taxes totaled more than half a million dollars, according to another email from his aide.
“Please let me know if there is a new plan to pay these bills,” the assistant wrote to him in that message, noting that he still owed around $370,000 in taxes and $120,000. dollars of other bank debts.
Biden’s aide did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Biden’s attorney, Chris Clark, said his client has now “paid in full” his IRS tax debts. Clark added that 2018 and 2019 were tough times for Biden, who struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction following the death of his brother Beau. It’s unclear how far prosecutors can look into Biden’s tax troubles, which the emails say date back to 2015 and continued into 2019.
“He is up to date with his tax obligations and is committed to remaining so as he continues his recovery from addiction,” Clark said.
In some of the same months that Biden’s accountant messaged him about taxes owed, Biden made large cash withdrawals, emails show. For example, he withdrew about $4,800 from ATMs in about two weeks in October 2018.
Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, penned a recent memoir chronicling the couple’s struggling finances when they got married. “More than once my debit card has been declined in a store. I should call Hunter to transfer money to my account,” she wrote in her memoir published earlier this year. “Hunter and I drove nice cars and had a nice house, but we were running fast on that hamster wheel and barely staying.”
In 2018, Buhle wrote to Morgan, the since-deceased accountant, seeking advice on an IRS tax lien based on an unpaid bill for $112,805.
Buhle said she was “lost” and asked Morgan to “please advise”.
In his own book, “Beautiful Things,” published last year, Hunter Biden wrote candidly about his addictions. He told NPR that he wrote the book to give hope to others struggling with addiction. He shared that the paychecks he received for serving on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma provided him with cash for crack cocaine.
“But by that crazy, bad ending, the boarding fees had turned into some kind of fun money,” Biden wrote. “It harassed me to spend recklessly, dangerously, destructively. Humiliating. So I did.
He continued to make amends, “both figuratively and literally,” he wrote. “I still have a ton of work to do on myself, with my addiction, and cleaning up the rubble of my past.”
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CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Jeff Winter contributed to this report.