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

Biden tax returns revealed

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. DJ

    The real story to his tax return is that while he and his wife earn $250,000+ per year ... they donate less than 1% of their annual salary to charity ($900).

    My wife and I earn less than $100,000 per year and yet we donate $4-5K per year to charity.

    Once again, "Do as I say ... not as I do" Democrats.

    September 12, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  2. Angus

    I cannot believe that everyone is commending 'poor' Joe Biden and his $320,000 annual salary, while saying nothing about the 98 senators earning more (much more, in some cases) than this. I'd love to make what Biden makes, yet a large majority of the Senate makes more than he does.

    People of America, let's truly change Washington! Vote out these big-earning senators who are just as out of touch! Send a message that We the People will not tolerate our representatives getting fat off of our hard work!

    September 12, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  3. Leopold

    If there's any justice or sense left, there will be no need to worry about all this soon: Todd Palin's indictment should be the beginning of his wife's political end, and the question will only be whether she has to give up the governorship after she withdraws as VP. None of that is nearly so important as honoring the wishes of that marine, above.

    September 12, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  4. ObamaOhS---

    Well Ol' Joe isn't just a loser in the political realm,evidently he's a loser in the financial realm too.How do you waste that much money? Just the guy I'd want running the country!!!!LOOOOOSER!!!!!

    September 12, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  5. plh

    A real man for the people. No hidden agenda. There are few in Washington I can respect . Joe Biden is one of those few.

    September 12, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  6. Silky Terrier K

    Biden is a fine man and an excellent representative for America. He is steady,manly, a good decision maker,respected and liked.
    He is a diplomat that can effective keep all AMericans safe on the world stage.
    He blinks, thinks and is a wise man. We are safe and sound with Biden.

    September 12, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  7. Debra Settles

    If Obama really wants to win. Biden needs to drop out and put Clinton in the VP spot.

    September 12, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. spacerook

    September 12th, 2008 7:31 pm ET

    Maybe that is why he did not pick Hillary? She is a moderate in touch with mainstream America! Bad judgment again Barack!

    McCain/Palin 08! They will deliver the authentic reform Americans can believe in! And, they will do it with integrity!
    Interesting, symptoms of people who also believe in fairytales

    September 12, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  9. Jennifer

    September 12th, 2008 6:36 pm ET

    "obama is showing his true colors attacking McCain over his inability to use computers. Being a president is not about whether you know how to use a blackberry but about honesty, service, and good judgement."

    Hey knowing how to use a computer is a basic requirement for even the most lowly job, heck cashiers at McDonanld's and Walmart use a computer, so we should expect nothing less from our president. Besides when China decides to hack into the Pentagon again which they have at least several times over the past year, wouldn't you want to have a commander in chief who actually knows what that means?


    September 12, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  10. Darryl

    Senator John Kerry had it right in 2004 when he said two of the biggest crooks to run for the white house how would he know it would be true today....

    September 12, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  11. David

    It's pretty inappropriately descriptive to use the word "poor" towards joe biden as he makes 245000 per year on average. That doesn't consider that he gets tons of free meals as a senator. I make 31000 per year before taxes

    September 12, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  12. Emilio




    September 12, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  13. Ken

    Joe Biden.....who's he?

    September 12, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. Red, North Carolina

    For those criticizing Joe for making "a lot more than the average person" in this country....why don't YOU try to take on the cost of living right outside of D.C.???

    Just like when we lived in CA and the folks in the middle of nowhere at my husband's company would complain while they lived in 4,000 sq. foot homes in gated communities and sent their kids to private schools and we lived in a 50 year old 900 sq. foot house and drove a 15 year old Honda because the cost of living was SO out of line with real life.

    Yeah, why don't you try on Joe's cost of living outside Washington which I've been told makes California real estate look like bargain basement prices.

    September 12, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  15. White and Black support for Obama

    at least Washington did not change him as it does to Mccain and others. The man is clean no corrupt by Washington.

    Yes he won't steal our money and it tell you that lobbyiest won't influence him nor Obama, because they care not about their demn money.

    September 12, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  16. Someguyinde

    Biden is a great guy. I'm worried about the foot in mouth thing that Dean encountered a few years back. Media spin has too much influence on stupid people. I respect someone that works for their country first and their paycheck second. Good luck Mr. Biden. I'm behind you 100%.

    September 12, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. Frank

    Okay, guess what people, everyone in this race has/makes a lot more money than the average American. So someone can say, "John McCain has lots of houses, he must not understand us!" and someone else can say "Joe Biden says he's poor compared to other Senators, but compared to me? He's like a billionaire! He just doesn't get it!" And then we can all scream at each other about which statement is more valid, but in the end, everyone involved probably has a decent idea of what the average American goes through and some of them (Obama is actually the only one I've heard give specific evidence) might ever understand a bit about being impoverished. But trying to weight whether or not a politician is in touch with average people based on his/her own personal wealth is ludicrous.

    September 12, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Sage

    i never realized that there were so many conservative fanatics in the eager to fall for lies, but hey they voted for Bush twice, some good that has done. i bet if a study were done we would find most serial killers are fanatic conservative republicans

    September 12, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  19. sjp

    socialism, socialism, socialism. you know this one hurt the repubs when the only card they can play is that old tired line. i also see palin is afraid of it, taking on russia all the way from alaska as a govenor no less, i guess she plans on sending the troops somewhere to back her statements also. for a strong and balanced america, without lies; obama/biden!!!

    September 12, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  20. Karen - Canada

    Considering oneself rich is relative. The same holds true by comparison if one considers oneself poor. Joe Biden can rightfully claim to be "poor" if he compares his "wealth" to other people in the Senate.

    September 12, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  21. kevin

    biden makes less than your average doctor. He does not own stock because he feels it is a conflict of interest. This is a good man who is qualified to be President and deserves utmost respect.

    September 13, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  22. Iunuine

    us marine...(#6) I'm a native Delawarean whose grandfather was an Amtrak conductor and knew Joe Biden from the train every day. My boyfriend is a veteran (Iraq and Afghanistan). He feels the same way you do, and is now an Obama Biden supporter because of Joe Biden. My brother and I are active in the campaign, and we work every day to bring you guys home safe. Joe Biden is the real deal...he just says what's on his mind. For those who say he's whining about how much money he's a press release. Regardless of whether he's the one releasing it, he's still not the richest guy in congress. Also: who asked about Bush's draft deferment (or just plain lack of service) in 2000?

    September 14, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  23. California Gold

    Only Rush Limbaugh would criticize a Senator for not taking advantage of his position and filling his pockets with money.

    September 14, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
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