September 12th, 2008
06:13 PM ET
2 years ago

Biden tax returns revealed

Sen. Biden campaigned in St. Louis earlier this week.
Sen. Biden campaigned in St. Louis earlier this week.

(CNN) - Joe Biden's newly released tax returns appear to confirm what the Democratic VP candidate has long contended - he is among the poorest U.S. senators currently serving.

At least half the nation’s senators are millionaires. But Biden and his wife Jill earned a relatively small $320,000 in 2006, paying about $66,000 in taxes. Over the last 10 years Biden and his wife earned just shy of $2.5 million - an average income of roughly $245,000 per year.

The Obama campaign released the 10 years worth of documents earlier Friday, in part to pressure the McCain campaign to do the same with Sarah Palin and her husband Todd's returns.

“The last eight years have brought Americans' faith in their government to its lowest point in over thirty years," Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said. "The only answer is to change the way we do business in Washington. That starts with something as simple as transparency. That's why Senator Biden is releasing his tax returns for the last 10 years."

A McCain aide told CNN Friday the campaign would release Palin's documents, but on their "own timeframe."

The Bidens' returns do not specify the various sources of the income, but the Delaware Democrat earns $165,000 per year as a senator and draws roughly $20,000 annually from his visiting law professorship at Widener University. Jill Biden is a teacher in Delaware and draws a salary of about $66,000. The 2007 tax returns also indicate Biden earned $71,000 in royalties for his book "Promises to Keep."

Biden, who does not hold a second residence in Washington and commutes back to Delaware daily via Amtrak train, often jokes about his relatively poor financial standing on the campaign trail. His modes net worth is also touted by the Obama campaign as a sign Biden has not become a creature of Washington or a fixture on its cocktail circuit.

"I make a good salary, although I am listed as the second-poorest man in this Congress," Biden said in Missouri last week. "I’m not proud of it. I’m not proud of it. But that’s what happens when you get elected when you’re 29 years old."

The newly released tax returns also show the Bidens have given substantially less to charity as a proportion of their income than both Barack Obama and John McCain. In 2007, Biden donated $995 to charitable organizations, or 0.3 percent of his pre-taxed income. That compares to the 5.7 percent of income the Obamas donated to charity last year and the 26 percent John McCain gave away.

As a U.S. senator, Biden released a financial disclosure form earlier this year in which he valued his assets at between $59,000 and $360,000. He also reported liabilities of between $140,000 and $365,000.

"When the last listing came out, they listed my net worth as between 70 and 150,000 dollars and Rush Limbaugh said ‘How can this guy manage our economy, he doesn’t have any money?’" Biden also said at that Missouri campaign stop. "Well, I thought the deal was, when you went to work for the government you weren’t supposed to make money!"


Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (423 Responses)
  1. Dick---vermont

    GOOD FOR YOU JOE.

    September 12, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Frank

    I want to just block any comments such as "HE'S MADE 2.5 MILLION OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS!!!!! HE SHOULD SAY HE'S POOR IN THE FACE OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOTHING!." Honestly, just don't. It's a fair point to say he lives very comfortably, despite being the second poorest Senator. It should only be taken in that context (of wealth amongst Senators) that Biden thinks he's poor. Honestly, ask John McCain (who thinks anyone with less that $5 million is poor), and then judge who's out of touch.

    September 12, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. YoungGrad

    That is awesome. What a great guy!

    September 12, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. S. Boatman

    Palin Will Not Release Her Taxes Because Of Executive Privilage!

    September 12, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Sue in PA

    Reporters please do a better job in giving us real news thank you.

    What were the Biden's chariable contributions compared to their peers in the same tax bracket?

    Oh, I might guess why the media will not write/state this in the news. Biden's charitable contributions are 90% less than his peers and even less than your average joe six pack.

    September 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Stacy

    Joe Biden's the MAN!!

    September 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Karrie

    When your wife has $100,000,000, you can afford to give 26% of your governmentt salary. As a fellow government employee (I started at age 18) who didn't marry money, put two kids through college, and have one kid to go, I feel your pain, Joe.

    September 12, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Brian

    Only real Americans with real common threads with the working people can take on the big industries. McPalin is so entrenched in big industry and lobbyists there is no way they can bring reasonable change to this country. They're running on the backs of the people we need to change from!

    September 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. mac attack

    Well I could Certainly live on $21,166.66 a month after taxes.
    But I'm happy none the less. And I'll be much more Happier when I wake up on my 59th Birthday Nov.5 when we have a new beginning

    OBAMA?BIDEN

    PALIN-blah,blah,blah, blah, blah,blah,blah,blah,–Charlie –blah,blah,
    blah,blah,blah,blah. blah, –Charlie–blah,blah, blah,blah,blah, blah
    BLIZZARD OF WORDS. iF YOU CAN'T DAZZLE THEM WITH BRILLIANCE, BUFFALO THEM WITH BS

    September 12, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. BD, Raleigh NC

    You are an admirable man, Mr. Joe Biden. If this blatant phony Palin gets in the White House... all I can say is, God help us all.

    September 12, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. Obama & Phelps on SNL

    Don't forget to watch Barack on SNL tonight. Also Michael Phelps.

    Also, don't forget to watch Sarah Palin tonight on 20/20

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 12, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  12. Eric

    Only $995 in charitable gifts!!!
    Shame on you Joe Biden! Thank goodness there are those in this country who give to those who are less fortunate. How could he be Vice President and ask others to give when he clearly does not?
    Obama's message is for all of us to help others yet his choice for VP doesn't!!!!
    Why does this not suprise me.....

    September 12, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. greta

    i love joe biden!

    September 12, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Pat Riot

    $66,000 in taxes. Roughly 20% of their net income to the federal government and Barack Obama wants to increase that number. Small business owners the country over will be rocked. Something is wrong with a nation that revolted against taxes and 200 years later requires its citizens to hand over 1/5th of their hard earned to Uncle Sam. That doesn't even take into account the amount lost to inflation thanks to congress's spending spree over the past few years.

    September 12, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. Maddie, Hartford, Ct.

    How refreshing!!!! He is one awesome, smart guy, who tells it like it is.

    September 12, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. J from DAHOUSE

    Biden is a true servant

    September 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. sine

    McCain and his camp want to do everything on their time....they want to reveal stuff when they want...they want to give us 7 weeks to learn about a potential vice-president. They lie and fabricate stories.

    If you vote for McCain and Palin you deserve exactly what you ask for.

    I have no sympathy for those who complain and turn around and vote for the same thing.

    At least I know I have a mind that doesn't get swayed every 2 seconds based on dirty ploys.

    Obama/Biden – the responsible choice for 95% of americans

    September 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Alaska hillbilly

    A decent, honest man. How great it would be if every politician had the same philosophy about life and dedication to serve his country as he does. I am impressed with this man and with his honesty.

    September 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. I don't understand

    Can anyone please help me understand, why do we want to see the tax returns for the canidates? I know to many this is a simple question but I am not being a smarta$$, I really don't know. So please be kind when answering :-)

    September 12, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. FemiMommy

    A McCain aide told CNN Friday the campaign would release Palin's documents, but on their "own timeframe."

    Why do they get to determine their own timeframe? The election is less than two months away. As usual, we the American people are being told to sit down and shut up and take what's being given to us. This is our country and we demand to know! Now!

    September 12, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. tim siad

    After reviewing Bidens tax returns it would seem the u.s.a. are finally coming close to electing an honest politician. Most of those elected are multi-millionaires after a few years in congress. Good for you Joe.

    September 12, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. rob

    Biden his the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i dont care how much money you have as long as you earned it by work!!!!!!!! not like mccain doesnt know how many houses he has!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 12, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. David Goldman

    I GUESS BIDEN DIDN'T
    WORK ON 12 HOUSES.

    September 12, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. Abby

    Kathleen Reardon said – Is It Sexist To Want The Person Flying The Plane To Be A Pilot?

    September 12, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. mobiusinformer

    If Biden's the second-poorest.....anybody know who's the poorest?

    September 12, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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