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. JDOD

    So he understands US who are not wealthy. I trust a man that commutes everyday to work on Amtrak. He also has only ONE house and not eight like McCain.- so many that he could not recall them all . Obama/Biden!

    September 12, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. Lesley

    Too bad the biased media isn't giving Joe Biden as much coverage as he deserves. After all, there are TWO vice prez candidates in this election. Biden really is in touch with the people, a genuine guy, not politics as usual.

    September 12, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  3. Lex Blanton

    What a guy! I'm so impressed by Joe Biden – more and more I see that time in Washington affects different people differently and for Joe it's made him a better (albeit poorer) man.

    Mr McCain – let me introduce you to a concept called 'Vetting your VP pick'

    **Go O & Joe!**

    September 12, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. Phil in Texas

    I TRUST OBAMA AND BIDEN...CAN'T SAY THE SAME FOR MCBUSH AND PALIN!!! FROM ALL THESE STORIES COMING OUT SHE IS A BULLY, MORE LIKE A POODLE WITH LIPSTICK!!!!
    REAL REFORM AND REAL CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN!!!!
    NO WAY!!! NO HOW!!! NO MCCAIN/PALIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. A-Man

    It amazes me how for real Obama and Biden are in that they actually care to help the country. It has been a long time since a president cared about the USA. McCain and Palin don't care, she has a track record of just carring about furthering her career and wealth. And McCain doesn't even think anymore. He is a Rove puppet and is willing to sacrifice all his morals to bid Rove's will. All he will ever be as president is a puppet to those big companies that pull his strings. And Palin would do anything for anyone who furthers her wealth, and folks that is not the average person. At thsi point you have to be an idiot to vote Republican, and never before have I supported the democrates, I have been a huge republican supporter until Bush's second term. Obama is the best thing for the US to both get it economically on track and to gain respect with the world. The Bush McCain war mongering just makes the US more unsafe.

    September 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Jude

    Reasonable...not like McSame and his 100 millions

    September 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. J. Weidenbach

    Joe Biden is not one to cheat to public he serves or to be abusive of power for self gain. That's what I call a true servant of the people. I think he's wonderful. It's about time we put him into a higher office, he'll work well with Obama and both men will work their butts off for our great nation. Both men remind me of Abraham Lincoln: " ...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from earth..." (Gettysburg Address, 1863).

    September 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  8. Cindy Lou Is A Neanderthall

    When Barbara asked John how many homes he has today, Cindy Lou bristled and said "That's not a part of this campaign". If you are running on George Bush's legacy, it's a huge part of this campaign. We have had record foreclosures, and we want a president who understands what it means to lose your home, not flip us off because he has more homes than he can count.

    Cindy Lou s a loser and so is her husband.

    September 12, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. angie in dallas 28

    honest, and humble. who doesn't want that in a VP.

    and yes HUMBLE... he'll admit when he is wrong but that's just it Joe Biden is rarely wrong and speaks his mind and would never be the puppet the way the republican ticket has become

    September 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. Tom in Delaware

    You 'Bots are absolutely the most entertaining group of misfits this country has ever produced.

    Who needs sit-coms with paranoid conspirousy therorists like you around.

    I'm Fox Moulder and you're the X-Files.

    Thanks for all your efforts.

    Ain't PANIC grand!!!!

    McCain/Palin '08

    September 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Hooray hooray just what the public wants to see.. tax returns of Joe Biden....ha ha ha ha ha. Is that a slur toward McCain and Palin to release there's...why doesn't obama release his.

    September 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  12. Alex

    Sorry Biden, since when truthfulness and openness is part of the political process? If you insult and make off line comment about that hot chick that is running against you the media will be all over you. It is not substance it is the style that matters. Where did your shrewd smile go? If you talk about her skirt or her lipsticks the media will cover you over trying to show your innocence. Instead of saying she does not have experience you have to say she has small brain to be the VP of this great and sophisticated country. You have to say it is not time for a skirt to carry such load and outrage the nation like McCain shocked everybody by picking her. Of course, then you to smile and apologize to the feminist groups, that will call for your head on a plate. The bottom-line is Biden you have to adopt Bush’s awe and shock strategy the Republicans adopted. I hope you will adopt this free advice and the media will once again fill your plane. Till then, I wish all the best.

    September 12, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. Sheri

    He is such a "cool" guy. I have watched his career for years. He is very smart. and very frank and very honest We need smart honest and frank people in Washingtonmworking for us.

    September 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Cindy Lou = Neanderthall

    When Barbara asked John how many homes he has today, Cindy Lou bristled and said "That's not a part of this campaign".

    She's wrong. If her husband is running on George Bush's legacy, it's a huge part of this campaign. We have had record foreclosures, and we want a president who understands what it means to lose your home, not flip us off because he has more homes than he can count.

    Cindy Lou's a loser and so is her husband.

    September 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. Allen Jacobs

    this is a cnp:McCain should be ashamed of himself. He is no maverick. He picked a token woman unqualified and nasty to boot. She really seems to relish smearing and misrepresenting facts – just another politician. More of the same unfortunately.How dare she mention HRC. HRC is the real deal – a woman who has fought for women and kids her entire life. Palin wanted rape victims to pay for kits. She wants to deny their rights to choice and equal pay. She wants to teach our kids creationism and ban books. Really America – don't let this McCain/Palin insult your intelligence. The McCain camp is using Palin tokenism to divide and conquer. Oh and by the way should this pair be elected are we all ready to have our kids drafted into a war with Iran or Russia? I hear nothing about diplomacy from this woman. She is GB on steroids. A "cocky Wacko" as Sen Chafee called her.
    Jpiny 5:57 PM

    September 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. J. Weidenbach

    Joe Biden is not one to cheat to public he serves or to be abusive of power for self gain. That's what I call a true servant of the people. I think he's wonderful. It's about time we put him into a higher office, he'll work well with Obama and both men will work their butts off for our great nation. Both men remind me of Abraham Lincoln: " ...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from earth..." (Gettysburg Address, 1863).

    September 12, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. Donna

    This just illustrates what a straightforward, honest, candidate we have in Joe Biden. I hope the independents who were leaning toward McCain and Palin will now change their minds, after hearing how woefully unprepared Sarah Palin is [please listen to the entire interview tonight]; how she is mired in ethical conflicts, including her billing Alaska taxpayers for "away from home" expenses for 312 days while she was at home, and her firing of a state employee because he would not terminate her ex-brother-in-law, etc. In stark contrast, Joe has an impeccable ethical record and is clearly not serving as Senator for the monetary gains. Not to mention that he is completely versed in foreign affairs; whereas Palin left the country a mere three times (two of which were most likely vacations, since she quickly moved on to discussing her visit to Iraq), and has never met with a foreign leader of any sort. How can we even be comparing these two? And ask yourself the following question: If today, either Joe Biden or Sarah Palin had to take over as President of the U.S., which of these two individuals would you trust to make a better president? Which of these two individuals would you trust to keep us from having a war with Russia (which might lead to the end of civilization). The answer is very, very clear. Also, if you want to read some very intelligent and spot-on comments about her ABC interview, go on the NY Times website.

    September 12, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  18. Juile

    See folks, transparency in government. This is what Obama said he will do and he's already following through. This is how it should be. McMansion's refuses to release his rich wife's tax returns because, according to him, it is in "the interest of protecting the privacy" of their children. What a load of bull. He doesn't want you to know how out of touch and rich he is. McMansion ownes betwen 7 and 11 houses and is a multi-millionaire with his wife's fortune. McMansion simply doesn't undertand the situation that the majority of Americans are in.

    September 12, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. DrMan

    "Poor" Joe Biden. Even on the gravy train that is the Senate, he can't make any money. No wonder he's a democrat.

    September 12, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  20. Kaye- Jacksonville FL

    Yeah baby – cough 'em up Mr. and Mrs. Palin....voters have a right to know. McCain dodged the bullet by smartly filing separate returns since he married Miss Millionaire....bet it never occurred to you and "First Dude"...

    So, let's see those returns --

    September 12, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  21. Frank

    Hey McCain/Palin person from 5:07 PM, you said "In my estimation and everyone I know, he would be considered rich." I just want to make sure that you know that John McCain doesn't think so. He thinks that you need to have twice the amount of money Biden has in order to be considered rich. I'm not saying that you can't say that he's rich, just (probably) don't pull other people into your point of view, given that the man you want to be President heartily disagrees.

    September 12, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. strong

    One of the "poorest" senators in the US? Poor baby.

    Let him and his lovely wife live on my salary. Then we can talk about being poor. Now shut up.

    September 12, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. ran

    People this year it is a very easy pick:Obama/Biden and other Democrats.

    That is all you need to know.

    Vote democrat and you will get your country back.

    September 12, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  24. Bill

    Sarah Palin worked at a crab processing plant in Alaska to pay for school. It will be sort of sobering to see how much she made. It's pretty hard to identify with Biden who makes 200K+ per year.

    September 12, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. John

    hillary 2012

    September 12, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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