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Email to Hunter Biden raises fresh questions about his tax dealings

An email obtained by NBC News indicates the President-elect’s son was told he did not disclose $400,000 in income from the Burisma gas company on his 2014 tax returns.
Image: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, centre, his son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens, right, joined by other family members during a ceremony to name a national road after his late son in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo.
Joe Biden, center, his son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens, right, joined by other family members during a ceremony to name a national road after his late son in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo on Aug. 17, 2016.Visar Kryeziu / AP file

Hunter Biden’s former business partner sent him an email in 2017 saying he did not disclose on his tax returns $400,000 in income from the Ukrainian natural gas company where he sat on the board, according to a copy of the email obtained by NBC News.

The message from Eric Schwerin, then president of Rosemont Seneca Partners, says Hunter Biden would need to “amend” his 2014 returns to reflect the “unreported” income, according to the copy of the email.

“In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,” says the email dated Jan. 16, 2017.

The email goes on to note that Hunter Biden, who is now the subject of a federal tax probe, netted more than $1.2 million for the year. The earnings include the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm.

The email was made available by Rudy Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello. Costello has said he was given a copy of one of Hunter Biden’s hard drives from the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware.

NBC News did not have access to the full drive. It is not known what, if any, action Hunter Biden took in response to the email.

Federal prosecutors in Delaware are scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China as part of a tax probe that began in 2018, according to a source familiar with the inquiry.

There’s no indication that his work for the Burisma national gas company is part of the investigation, but the email obtained by NBC News raises fresh questions about Hunter Biden’s tax affairs.

His lawyer, George Mesires, did not return a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Biden transition team declined to comment when sent a list of questions, including whether Hunter Biden amended his 2014 returns.

NBC News could not independently verify whether the email is authentic and unaltered, but provided with a copy of the email, the spokesperson did not dispute its authenticity.

NBC News made multiple attempts to reach Schwerin, but he did not respond to the requests for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.

In a statement released Wednesday, Hunter Biden acknowledged the investigation into his tax affairs and said in part: “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.”

Hunter Biden’s work in the Ukraine was a central thread in the controversy that led to President Trump’s impeachment. The House of Representatives impeached Trump after he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of Joe Biden and Hunter in an attempt to damage his Democratic rival.

Trump and his allies alleged that then-Vice President Biden had forced out a Ukrainian prosecutor to quash an investigation into Burisma that could implicate Hunter. The allegations were widely discredited.

Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board in 2014 after he was discharged from the U.S. Navy Reserve for testing positive for cocaine.

In a 2019 interview with ABC News, he acknowledged that he was likely given the board seat because of his last name and said joining Burisma was “poor judgment.”

Biden stopped working with the company in 2019, NBC News has previously reported.

“In retrospect, look, I think that it was poor judgment on my part,” Hunter Biden said in the ABC News interview.

He added that he knows he “did nothing wrong at all.”

Julia Ainsley contributed.