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. Mac

    I just love how the article called it a "relatively small $320,000". I wish I made that "small" of an imcome. I don't care who you support in this election, I think that most of our elected officials make way too much money.

    September 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. Obama Supporter

    Biden is a non-entity. Polls show that in a race of Biden against Palin, he gets blown out.

    He was the wrong pick. Should have been Hillary and now nobody cares.

    Obama 08'

    September 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Frank

    Is there anyone who honestly cares what Joe Biden's income is?
    He put out his tax returns for the last 10 years. Palin's could not be as high as his because she was Governor for only a few years.

    Is this going to be Obama's new gimmick? I'm more poor than you are?

    This is RIDICULOUS ! OBAMA is a MULTI – Millionaire !

    September 12, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. veteran

    Well why didn't he get a job then ? I could live real well on what he makes !

    September 12, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. voter

    How about the Obama response today that McCain will rather lose his intergrity to win an election? Ouch. Considering McCain has another ad today saying he is for stem cell research as well as Palin which is a lie. Palin is aganist stem cell research. All of the lies makes one wonder if he is losing his integrity due to his obsession to win an election and make up for his lost to Bush in 2000.

    September 12, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Don Skipton

    I made a "relatively low" $260k last year and paid more taxes than this guy. What gives?

    September 12, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Wow, sounds like Biden might actually know something about struggle in the United States. Wouldn't that be something.. to have a VP who knows something about the daily lives of regular Americans?

    Obama/Biden!

    September 12, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  8. Mer

    That is a real man and that is whom I want to lead this country.

    September 12, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. Elizabeth

    Grow up Joe Biden and stop your whinning. Who wants a VP and
    potential President that whines about himself. Your income does not
    relate to all the goodies, like health insurances, travel expenses,
    complimentary gifts, dinners, shall I go on. You get it all just like
    the rest of the political figures. Stop whinning!!! Can you honestly
    say that your daily amtrack is not paid for by the American taxpayers???
    Whoe is Joe!!

    September 12, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. Bill

    Obama and Biden will win! They'll tax the rich Repubs and then give that money to those that need it, like those that pump kids out in the low income housing, illegal immigrants, and lazy trailer trash. Here in Oregon, this tax plan will provide a boost to the economy, as all the low income folks will hit the stores and by X-Boxes and plasma tv's instead of contributing to the community. They are poor, so they should be made to pay for anything, that's what rich people are for! We have bought enought votes to ensure that Obama will win Oregon, we won't let the rednecks win this time! BJack

    September 12, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Beverly from Ohio

    I am so proud of you senators Obama and Biden, that is surely "CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN".

    September 12, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. R.M.

    Wow, Wow, Wow.... Now this is a man with integrity!! Hats off unlike McCain, I bet he knows how many house he owns!!

    September 12, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. The Republicans are comedic GOLD!

    AWESOME!! I am glad to see a politician not selling his soul to a giant corporation. he is still making far more than most Americans, but at least he is in a reasonable ball park.

    What did McSame, Palin and even Obama make last year?

    Oh, Rush Limbagh hates America and has contempt for everyone who lives here that isn't a rich white guy.

    September 12, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  14. PALIN POWER

    wow... McCain and Biden make about the same money...

    This is the first election I remember in a long time when someone wasn't a gazilionair....

    September 12, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Sue

    "an average income of roughly $245,000 per year"...."I make a good salary, although I am listed as the second-poorest man in this Congress...Wow, what I wouldn't give to make $245, 000 a year!! And that is considered second-poorest!! Most of us "regular folk" will take at least 5 years to make what his 10 year average income is. This doesn't include his Government Retirement (don't forget our standard social security and health plans are good enough for our elected officials, they get special plans) and he is so far away from a blue collar worker that I find it funny he even knows what that is. Talk about out of touch.....

    September 12, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. tom

    The sad truth that both Obama and Biden doubled what they gave to charity just before they ran for president. Sorry I forgot that the government is suppose to take care of the homeless, hungry or have had their lives destroyed by a natural disaster. Joe your charity contributions come to 30.75 dollars a month for the last ten years. I'm sure your hair plugs cost more than that.

    September 12, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. Orlando O.

    Biden my not have a lot of money, but he has knowledge of foreign affairs. He also sponsored the violence against women act. While Wasilla, Alaska charged rape victims for examinations under Palin.

    September 12, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. MarioB. from Berlin FOR OBAMA

    Biden is a wonderful man and HE's not as corrupt as Sarah Failin might be... I'm waiting for her tax returns release. I'm looking forward to it, I'm sure, not just her husband is a corrupt big fish of oil industry in Alaska...

    I love that Biden and I love Obama...
    Way to go, guys. In 4 months you're in the white house as president / VP.

    Obama/Biden 2008-2016

    September 12, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Justin in CA

    Lets see Palins income tax return. How much do you want to bet they don't come out until 1 day before the election.

    September 12, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. FreeNLovIt

    Obama did the right thing by picking Biden. He pushed Romney, and the other qualified Republican VPs, right out of the campaign.

    He's one of the best of the best!!

    September 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. kerd

    Joe Biden is exactly the type of person I want representing me in congress.

    September 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    No wonder the democrats want goverment to take care of the poor when you see how much they give in Charity! Biden <3/100ths of a percent. I guess he is a good Catholic! The Church is not getting their tithes. Obama was still less charitable than the average conservative, with less than 6% to Charity!

    September 12, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  23. Jenny from Chicago

    "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."

    Spellcheck missed something. Modes = modest?

    September 12, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  24. Sara, Birmingham, AL

    Money does not add character; and Joe you are a real mensch. Keep up the good work. And please get tough with Palin if and when she ever comes out of hiding for a debate.

    September 12, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. sheila goss

    we finally got a honest guy,it is about time, He got my vote,

    September 12, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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