September 12th, 2008
06:13 PM ET
9 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. JImmy in California

    For years I have herd people refer to Joe Biden as a man that will say anything. They have said he will put his foot in his mouth in a heartbeat. Well in all those years I have considered him to be one who speaks his mind and since what he says all do not always agree with he is labeled as one who will put his foot in his mouth. I have come to respect him for speaking his mind in a fair and honest way.

    As far as his finances are concerned, well he could have acquired much more wealth had he chosen the route chosen by many others in Washington. He chose not to set up house in DC but rather to commute back and forth to his Delaware home each day. I admire him for that. He has my vote.

    September 12, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |

    OK Tom Tom T. September 12th, 2008 5:19 pm ET.....John McCain brought his DAUGHTER a townhouse for $700,000 and PAID for it in CASH….Pleaseeeeeeee

    September 12, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |



    September 12, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  4. Reality sets in

    It is crazy for people to have believed that America would have put a Black man in the the office of president.

    While there are so many who can and do see past race, the truth is there are just too many more who never will.

    May another 50 years or so. We will see

    September 12, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |

    She was so disrespectful to C. Gibson...........GOD help us if she has to met with LEADERS OF OTHER Countries....I PRAY that Russia leaders didn't watch her last night.

    We are not scared of her, so you paid bloggers can stop that LIE.......If elected, let's see HOW long it will take you, as you claim to be SCARED.

    September 12, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  6. KG

    Biden is a has been (actually a never was). Even people from his own party don't vote for him. What did he get this time when he ran for Pres? 7,000 votes total!!! Ooooh, wow, he's a big gun. Ineffective, wrong on international politics, wrong on the economy, etc. Yes, he's a real force to be reckoned with – NOT!! More like a force to be ignored. Which is basically what people are doing.....

    September 12, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Obama Supporter!

    He may not be rich but at least he's "HONEST" about it!! GO JOE!!

    Obama/Biden 08!

    September 12, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Willie for Obama 08

    Finaly !! The time has come, After waiting for so long to bring CHANGE !! to Washington, GOD knows we need it. Obama is the Man to bring that CHANGE!!

    September 12, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  9. Grace Needed

    How refreshing to learn about a politician who is who he says he is and apologizes when he is wrong. The more we learn about Joe Biden the more convinced I am that Senator Obama made the right choice in selecting him! My apologies to all you Clinton fans, but how would she have fared having to release her tax returns? The whole concept of transparency in government will make many uncomfortable when they have to give an account of their actions. Yet, no matter how you can skirt your actions here, the good book says there is going to be an accounting, especially to leaders who are called to a higher accountability than the rest. So whether McCain and Palin are called on their lies and deceit now in this world or in the next, we know they will be justice and since McCain is closer to the time when he meets his maker, he should be more concerned!

    September 12, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  10. josh from minneapolis

    They all make way more than me. I think all the candidates stink. just who are they representing i don't know anyone who makes that much money. America needs to wake up lets get a real candidate not some rich yuppies.

    September 12, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. Patti Zimmerman

    I love that Biden has reveled his tax returns. That is exactly the kind of transparency the Obama administration has committed to, a first step for true change in Washington.

    September 12, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. Barbara

    Seems like the McCain campaign wants to dictate to everyone.

    Interesting – dictatorship – hmmmm

    September 12, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. Indipendant for Obama

    Now it's time for Palin to release hers and when you're at it Cindy should as well!!!!!!!!!

    If marriage if 2 people going in the world as one, then she owes it to the American people to show how she hides money for Johnny Demetia!

    September 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Shrinath

    OH! WOW! A politician who is not corrupt???? Ama-ZING! And his wife is a teacher. People are totally stupid to even think of McCain-Palin. McCain
    s tax returns are going to interesting, if he releases them. OBAMA-BIDEN 08 and 12!

    September 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. JD

    WOW!!! How charitable of Joe to give such a large and generous sum of ZERO POINT THREE PERCENT of their income to charitable organizations. Also, hats off to Sen. Obama for the generous 5.7% of their income being donated to charitable causes. But never fear, my friends, these seemingly miserly donations to those in need will be dwarfed in comparison to the BILLIONS of taxpayers money which will go to the cradle to grave welfare state under the Obama/Biden administration.

    You're right Joe, Hillary would've been the better least her and Bill gave more to charities.

    September 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. Darren

    Joe's one of us!

    September 12, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. Mainedog

    Obama refuses to place his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, you can find pictures of this on various websites on the internet. That show his lack of resepect for the soliders who serve and a contempt of this great nation. He doesn't love this country like McCain and never will, Obama has done NOTHING his whole career except wait to run for president! These polls show that americans have a better understanding then the dems ever invisioned. If the polls keep moving in McCains favor it will be a landslide!!!!! GO McCain/Palin 08

    September 12, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Uncle Fester

    John, NC September 12th, 2008 5:30 pm ET

    Biden stiffed Bruce Riddle for over $15,000 worth of work on his 1988 Presidential campaign financial disclosure engagement

    John NC-where do you get your information, Free Republic?
    This is from Snopes-it is not unusual for any candidate to take
    years to pay back debt from a campaign
    "After we completed this article, we received a subsequent e-mail from Mr. Riddle stating the following:
    I sent a private e-mail to 6 family members some time ago about Joe Biden not paying his bills for services rendered. The e-mail was private and contained my contact information. One of those family members sent it to two other people. One of those other people stupidly sent it to the world with my contact information included.

    I have been bombarded with phone calls and e-mails to the point of not being able to work or lead a normal life. Since the e-mail was sent out the bills have been paid in full. This matter is closed.

    I would appreciate you helping me share this with the world so it will die a natural death. "
    Last updated: 10 September 2008

    September 12, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  19. ajks

    Mrs. McCain was a little touchy about the houses on the View.

    Palin says that the state checkbook was put on the internet for transparency purposes–but, although her husband who is not a state employee received copies of the e-mails to do with the Troopergate investigation, her people will not release to the public the e-mails that are wanted by investigators. So much for being for the people!

    Now they will release her tax returns when they want to.

    Anybody see a pattern of hide what you can?

    September 12, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. Susan in NC

    With the deepest admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton, I urge the folks who are posting for McWhatever and Gov. Don't-Have-A-Clue in '08 and Hillary Clinton in '12, please consider the fact that if these Republicans are elected, none of us may even be around in 2012! I am confident Senator Clinton will serve as a major and important Cabinet member with Obama and that she'll have another chance, but please, please consider the consequences for voting Republican this year - something Hillary herself has specifically asked you not to do.

    Obama for America!

    September 12, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. mdrift

    Have you seen the home he owns? Unless he's got everything in Stocks–I'd bet on it–there is no way he can afford it with this claim.

    The average US Senator costs [not salary] is well over $2 million/year.

    Joe strikes me like all the rest and takes advantage of every perk he can get his hands on.

    September 12, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. scott

    people wake up, palin is one scary woman, please do research and get informed

    September 12, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. susie

    He considers himself poor with his income? Unbelievable!!!

    September 12, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. Jeff

    I appreciate that Binden's tax returns don't show a lot of money...Point out that I say his tax returns don't show a lot. Do we really believe that he has no other resources. Everyone wants to complain because McCain has money or married into money and the whole house situation-get over it–don't be so worried because someone has money and get it together about the houses and look at others with similar amounts of money. I cannot decide which way to vote this time because they are all elitist compared to the average American. One side will raise out taxes and give more to the lazy part of society that is full of excuses for not working and wanting hand outs and the other will still not raise taxes for rich Americans – yes, I know its not that simple, but neither side works for me as just an average citizen. Oh, and yes, I have been in Iraq and yes, I am in school and can barely afford it and have no health care..Neither side of these fools will help me or the average American. Think about it...

    September 12, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. A Bridge to Nowhere

    US Marine September 12th, 2008 5:03 pm ET

    Sen Joe Biden, I have respect for sir. Let us see if Mccain and Cindy mccain can release just last year income.
    Straight from baghdad i want you and obama to bring us home sir.

    Bless your heart and thank you for your service. There are a lot of us trying to get you home.
    Unfortunately there are a lot of us that are trying for 4 more years just like the last eight.

    September 12, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
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