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. j.williams, san diego

    just like Teddy, these Democrats don't report offshore accounts...That's where Rangle messed up–it was rent income-not investment.

    September 12, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Kaylabratmeanat17

    Well if most people had any idea how much it cost to live in this day an age maybe you would not have to question why biden does not have any savings or why he has a huge mortgage... What does that tell you when You make 300,000 a year and you still have to make ends meet.. What does that say about our current situation??? Let me see you try to save a dollar when it cost more for you to get to work in one month then it does for you to pay the rent, (maybe I should just live in my car ?) and if you fall ill ( pray that you don't ....) Everything you worked for could be up in smoke... You tell me how can one achieve financial freedom, when you can barely put food on the table.. The price of gas is up, the price of electricity is up, the cost of groceries, and in most cases taxes on everything.. Let me tell you I am not looking forward to being an adult in America....

    Obama/Binden 2008

    September 12, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  3. aware

    Obama=socialism/fascism! 🙁

    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! 🙂

    September 12, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. catz

    Obama is blasting McCain for hiring FORMER lobbyists for his campaign. Forgot to tell the public that his running mate Joe Biden's own son Hunter is also a former lobbyist. Seems Obama is just as full of B.S. as the next candidate.

    September 12, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. CJG

    Good for Biden , at least we know he does not have 9 houses,he could not afford them!
    He actully is just one of the good ones in the Senate who has a brain and used it to make a difference rather than get stinking rich!

    September 12, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Rai

    Ms. McCain, your 7 homes may not be an issue to you but my one home and the possibly loss of it is an issue to me. I can't afford Oscar De La Renta or Jimmy Cho shoes but neither do I shop at Wal-Marts. In fact I no longer shop since I cannot buy American made goods. I shop for groceries if they are produced in the US or else do without. I am so sick of your husband's lies and his Hockey Mom's nasal high-pitched idiot evangelical platitudes that I cannot even stand to listen to their blather. The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is that you can legally spay a pit bull.

    September 12, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. registered independant

    Joe Bidens financials only solidify that I have made the right choice. Obviously he isn't being bought by the special interest groups or he would have 7 houses just like John McCain. Biden is however far richer in character. Another reason why Obama/Biden are my ticket of choice.

    September 12, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Daryl from Seattle

    People knock Biden, but he's worked hard to get where he's at and he's a humble man. It takes humility to concede that Hillary might have been a better choice of VP. There's nothing wrong with that.

    September 12, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. lee

    We love you Joe! You are our kind of real guy!
    Obama- Biden 08

    September 12, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. sick n tired

    Good for you Joe! Rush is nothing but a self proclaimed know it all,narrow minded,double standard spewing Jerk!!!

    September 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. Dee

    what's up with Cindy McCain. She's joined at the hip to McSame. He she afraid that her hubby may stray again.

    September 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. chuckles199

    only in congress would biden be considered a poor man.
    don't forget his father was a used car salesman.
    cheating working people out of money.

    joe biden by any stretch other than congress is RICH////RICH/////RICH

    September 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  13. TCE

    Let's get real–WHAT ABOUT MCCAIN'S WIFE'S RETURNS? Probably in the hundreds of millions. What about that for reaching out to hard working blue collar voters. Pretty hard to empathize and advocate for them when there is such a wealth disparity!!

    September 12, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. Walt

    He should do the public and himself a service and retire from the Senate and earn an extra income to get in with Obama's sources of wealth.

    September 12, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. catz

    $995. in charity contributions! Big Deal! My family donated almost as much on a 40,000 salary.

    September 12, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  16. chuckles199

    biden – smart -yeaf that's why he finished 76 out of 85 in law school.

    while getting FIVE draft deferments/

    who took joe biden's place in VIETNAM?

    September 12, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. jeanette

    Joe needs a raise – I earn more than he does.

    September 12, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. NoGOP

    When you make as much money as a politicians do, you can cook the books. I do not believe anything I see, nor do I believe anything I hear. I do know everything I do know based purely on experience. Ask yourself why we denounce the previous President everytime we are electing another one? This does not say much for the way we end up with candidates, does it? Our system is screwed.

    September 12, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. Willy Brown

    Another Rich liberal telling us how to live. Nice....

    September 12, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  20. nodemsanymor

    I have been a democrat for 38 years. I have ALWAYS voted democrat and most of the time I have voted a straight party ticket. NO MORE! I am voting McCain/Palin this time. It is toooo scary to think that Obama might be president. My pocket book and mental health would never be able to take him. He can't even fight a fair fight. He will try to win this election by bad mouthing the Republican candidates. He doesn't know any other way to win. Just look at what he did in Chicago.

    September 12, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. will

    A little truth goes a long way. Keep it up Joe!

    September 12, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. V. Jackson

    I believe that McCain's cancer problem is elevated, so that his mental health is not in the headlines. Has there been questions about McCain and "post traumatic stress syndrome disorder"? He certainly displays PTSD symptoms. Records of his demonstrative anger and outburst needs to be reviewed and not overshadowed by his acceptable cancer condition.

    September 12, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Mr.Rich and Mrs.Clueless

    We dont like Joe,hes too honest.

    September 12, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. TB

    The second poorest Senator? I do feel bad for him, he is just like the rest of us....just the average Joe....

    2006 United States National Median of years salary : $ 48,023
    Joe Biden's 2006 combined salary: $320,000

    That's STILL $271,977 more than the average US salary. ya, POOR Joe.

    September 12, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. Gabi

    Well I guess it's true, Republicans are way more charitable than the Dems. I earn less than half of Biden's salary and I give away far more but I don't spend $180 a day on Amtrak either.

    Obama says McCain can't use a computer, McCain can't comb his hair nor tie his own shoes either, what does that tell you?

    Is Charlie Rangl going to prison?

    September 12, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
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