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. Greg W

    By the way "bob," how do you feel about a sitting President getting oral sex in the White House from an intern. Oh yeah, forgot about that little adultery, didn't you? And then he lied about it under oath. Now that is contrition.

    September 12, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  2. catz

    How is Joe Biden suppose to be good for developing the U.S. economy when he doesn't know how to increase his own income. Economics can't be his strong point.

    September 12, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |

    Do obama supporters really think they they are going to get something for insurance, tax rebate, paid education, etc. etc etc.
    Have you ever heard the old saying "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't". Well it isn't and if you people understood math you'd get it.

    September 12, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. JD in Houston

    Biden has character, integrity, and a family that shows where his real values have been invested. Say what you want of his politics, he is a simple man representing the people and not capitalizing on that opportunity is what true service to country is all about. Senators have the ability to turn their jobs into rich speaking fees and lobbyist sweet deals. Joe speaks with the knowledge and integrity of one of our great statesmen, he is one of my heroes!

    McCain used to be one of my heroes, until the Rove tactics took over. Now I have no idea what McCain stands for or what is his real character. It is uplifting to see Biden stay who he is, and sad to see McCain sell out.

    September 12, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  5. Harerta Tesfa

    I have more money than Biden! He is truly a public servant. I bet that Palin made as much the combined income of Obama and Biden....The question will be how?
    McCain has made the worst mistake he's ever made in his life... it's downhills from now on.


    September 12, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  6. wwwwww

    no way–no how–no mcsamepain

    September 12, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Stacy in So Cal

    Hey Nobama,

    McCain not being able to use a computer in this age is a problem, it shows he's outdated.

    September 12, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  8. obamaticians doth come!

    I am so much impressed that Biden, a US senator, soon to become the next US VP, goes and comes back from work by train. This is Amazing. If most Americans, irrespective of their status, follow this example, I am sure there will be less dependence on OPEC oil. I think America needs leaders that will lead by example. Biden will be very great as a VP.

    September 12, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. Independent Voter

    Biden is definitely not an elitist and is a real down to earth kind of guy. HIs openness in relesing his tax returns is proof that he did not become a Senator to get rich. Can McCain say the same? Can Sarah Plain say the same?? I doubt it!

    Biden is a man of the people.

    September 12, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    Here are some of the reasons why I'm a Democrat and I'm supporting the Democratic nominee for president: Democrats will protect a woman's right to choose; Democrats will work to protect the environment; Democrats support stem-cell research; Democrats will work to lower taxes for the poor and raise the taxes for the rich who embrace "trickle-down economics" as plausible. Democrats may not be perfect people, but NO ONE is perfect. Republicans do none of these things. I don't support Republicans because they allow religious fads to cloud their political judgment. I trust the judgment of Democrats and I don't trust the judgment of the Republicans...and the last eight years have proven that they cannot be trusted with the power of this nation.

    September 12, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. Stephen G

    Despite income ranging from $210,432 – $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 – $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% – 0.31% of their income.

    This giving compares very unfavorably to John McCain, whose tax returns show that he gave 27.3% – 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007. During the same period, the Obamas' tax returns show that they gave 5.8% – 6.1% of their income to charity.

    Perhaps the Obama-Biden campaign needs a new slogan: "Change You Can Believe In (As Long As Someone Else Pays For It)"

    September 12, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. catz

    Obama has started with negative ads. I thought he was claiming to be a new kind of candidate – no negativism. It goes to show that he is just like any old candidate that will say anything to get elected. Action speak louder than words, so much for taking the high road.

    September 12, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  13. NotALemming

    This guy's not poor. When will these Dem hypocrites stop acting like they know all about the "regular Joe" working man? I'd be happy if I made 1/10 what the Bidens make....

    September 12, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. E

    this is news how?

    Can we see the McCain and Palin ones now?

    September 12, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  15. Big D

    It's clear that Obama picked Biden to be his VP because he really believes that he's the best person for the job, and he's ready to move up to POTUS if required. But McCain did not take his VP pick seriously – he picked someone who is not ready, and then he lied to try to make her sound more accomplished than she actually is. So what does that tell you about each person's temperment and judgement? It tells me that Obama has great judgement – and McCain is willing to put our nation at risk. Biden is great pick, and he really is a 'real person' and a decent man. I love that he's one of the few who didn't try to get rich at our expense – and that's why he is qualified to support CHANGE, even though he's been in Washington for a long time. Go Joe!

    September 12, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. John Kaleto

    NObama has enough money for the both of them.

    Wow–I gave more more to charity than Biden did and I earn WAY less than he does!

    Sorry, Joe, but by my standards if you average 1/4 of a million dollars a year for 10 years, you're still a rich fat cat politician!

    September 12, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. ian

    I doubt Biden is trying to get people to feel bad for him. Facts about his family have been stated, and I see at as him being able to relate to those 'few' Americans who aren't so well off.

    September 12, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    Tom in Delaware, don't worry, I'm not scared of your candidates. They're not going to win anyhow. Sounds to me like you're more affraid of Barack Obama and Joseph Biden.

    September 12, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Nathan

    What about those nice PAC monies from the Lawyer lobby? That's $7 million not counted.

    September 12, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. Erick NJ

    Can someone start a collection for this guy?

    September 12, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  21. Foreign Observer

    "Nobama" writes:

    "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."

    Well, he isn't honest (see blatant and vicious lies in recent ads), and his judgment is terrible even by his own account ("I made msitakes in haste and suffer the consequences later"). We'll give him service, ok? It was 26 years ago, I think, but there was quite a bit of it.

    I agree, btw, that it isn't about being able to use a computer. It is, however, about understand today's culture and communication systems. And it's hard to imagine how that' s possible _without_ being able to use a computer.

    September 12, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  22. aware

    Biden is a good old boy but he can't prop up Obama!

    Hillary was Obama's ticket to win but he has very poor judgment and his arrogance and narcissism made it a sure bet that he would chose someone who would not outshine him! Bad choice Barack! 🙂

    McCain/Palin 08! They will deliver the authentic reform Americans can believe in! And, they will do it with integrity! 🙂

    September 12, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. wiser

    Failed decisions, failed leadership. Senator Obama's pride and ego will ultimately keep him from his presidential quest.

    Senator Hillary Clinton and her 18 million supporters would have been a slam dunk for Senator Obama. He has shown poor judgment!

    Democrats for McCain!

    September 12, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Well at $320,000 income, the Bidens are still in the top 5% that Obama wants to tax more. Not exactly the 'average joe'.

    September 12, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  25. common sense

    So... within an instituion rife with thieves and liars he's the the most least successful?

    September 12, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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