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. Kent, Illinois

    That's what service is all about..............not doing for yourself. He isn't in Washington to get rich. Pretty evident don't you think. It has nothing to do with not being able to do the VP job. Service is doing for OTHERS Limbaugh! I don't expect the GOP lovers to understand.......Your'e doing a great job Biden. Illinois Independents like you and support you in November...........

    September 12, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hey I heard that Joe got five deferments and missed Vietnam. I spent two years there and a lot of my friends did as well.

    Wonder what Joe was doing?

    Haven't heard of Mrs. Osama for awhile. Wonder if she is in the pig pen looking for her man.

    Osama is a sexist and has a funny name for our president.

    McCain will protect our country and our values. Osama will give a speech.

    September 12, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  3. Hottopics

    I can hardly wait for this. From what I have seen from the Palin family
    first VP to possibly to be indicted -( at least I know of no other VP candidate with this issue), all the controversy about her billing the Government when she works at home, teenage pregnancy, all her flip flops (she really is trying hard to fit in) and continues to change her views, knowing everything is pretty much documented, shoots bears from low flying planes, all her Religious issues – my take on the Palins – they are losers.

    I forgot to mention her environment record – by the way she changed her stance on that today.

    What a joke..........................

    September 12, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  4. steve Gillispie

    so depends on witch party you/us/we, support ours is always the right party ? nixon says i am not a crook! clinton says i did not have sex with that woman! shame on both parties, shame on the news media, and most of all shame on us! yes, you and me for not demanding that all be held to account and for not having a 3 or 4 party system, oh wait nixon was set up and clinton dident.... okay never mind both parties are honest

    September 12, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  5. Beth

    Geez, much money did YOU give to charity last year?! I know I certainly couldn't afford $995. And, shocker that the Repugs on here are finding one silly thing to make a fuss over. You can't admit to yourselves that Biden is an honest man with NOTHING to hide...unlike your girl, Palin...who is hiding a lot. Where are her tax returns? Uh right...on their "own" time frame.

    Seriously people...wake up.

    Obama/Biden '08...where country really DOES come first!!

    September 12, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  6. KofTX

    The fact that Joe is TRULY a good guy and statesman is underscored by is no-frills attitude toward public service.

    Obama and his campaign are more concerned with GOVERNING, that is why they picked Joe Biden.

    McCain and his campaign seem to be only concerned with WINNING AN ELECTION, that is why they picked Sarah Palin.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 12, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. ZAB

    Good move Biden!

    Palin's popularity reminds me of the new high school girl that just moved into the neighborhood and the students are super excited: the guys think she's hot and can't stop looking at her and the girls are comparing stats and want to know everything about her. In less than a few weeks the new girl (Palin) will be old news and this race to the white house and our future will get back on track. And like high school, soon the new girl blends in and something else becomes the next hot thing. Thank goodness.

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

    I love Joe Biden, he is humble and modest, the perfect pick! Go Joe!

    September 12, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. ully

    just trust to Mc cain and Palin ,more clear and honest! Joe bidden like to be President,he is over,Obama more worse,sweet talker,and not ready for president! so no doubt to Mc cain and Palin!

    September 12, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  10. go away mongers-Ventura ca

    Joe Biden is a man of princeples and DOES what he SAYS.
    He is a direct contrast to dick cheney (and Sarah Palin).

    September 12, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. AUC

    What an honorable man. As an average American, I can relate.

    God bless Obama/Biden 08/12 and America!

    September 12, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. Moe, NY

    You go proud of your accomplishments. America may just have an honest upright Senator....what a change! As for Rove, I do believe he would take the coins off a dead man's eyes...ok, so I dated, but I still believe Rove would do it!

    September 12, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. James in Oregon

    Joe Biden is a person that can and does relate to real people , and he is HONEST. Neither person on the Republican ticket can make that claim. This Country deserves Honest leaders with Integrity.


    September 12, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. Jake

    Joe Biden at age 65 has a net worth of $0 and that doesn't bother you. His sons are 39 and 40 and daughter is 27, so it's not like being 40 years with 3 kids through college. We are in our late 40's with kids in college and our income is far less than 1/2 of Bidens, yet our net worth is close to $1,000,000 – no inheritance or financial planner. I want a VP who is smarter than me with money.

    September 12, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. nwcanadian

    Rush–smartest man on radio. You don't hate him because he's dumb, you hate him because he tells the truth about you and you can't afford to admit it.

    September 12, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. Ivette absentee voter from Panama

    Dear Campbell or Anderson,

    Good for Senator Biden! Well done! Can McPain come out of one of the houses he doesn't know he owns and do the same as Senator Biden? And how about Palin and her hubby?

    By the way, are you going to give Senator Biden's son's deployment to Iraq as much coverage as you did to Palin's son? hmm...I wonder...and while you are at it, can any of you confirm if what I have been hearing and reading on your blogs about Palin's son is true? It has been said that the only reason that Palin's son is going to iraq is to run away from an oxycotin addiction and this is why he joined the army. What would happen if this were Obama's son? I bet you the media would be all over this story. Let's see how you treat this one.

    September 12, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Its Ooga

    In all fairness, why don't we put all four of their money on the table and see which group look more like us "common folk"

    You cannot frown on FRUGALITY.

    September 12, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. smartvoter

    Its hard to refute that kind of integrity! The kind that puts all the cards on the table because there's nothing to hide. I admire you Mr. Biden. You have my vote for sure!

    September 12, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  19. Rami

    Now, that is a politician I can relate to. Go Biden and Obama.

    September 12, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  20. Jessica

    What a shame that Palin is making such a show out of her son's deployment to Iraq.

    She could learn a thing or two from Joe Biden – his son is shipping out to Iraq on October 3, but you'd never know it because he chooses not to EXPLOIT HIS CHILD for political gain.

    And FYI, anyone who thinks Joe Biden is literally referring to himself as "poor" is incredibly dense. No wonder this country is in the shape its in!

    September 12, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  21. steve Gillispie

    no wonder so many countries wish us to fall, no the greatest of all we are, i mean after all we make our choises based on fact after all we get facts from our news media, arent we great or just morans?

    September 12, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  22. renee

    To the Obama/Biden campaign: Continue to attack the issues the American people are interested in. Don't get caught up in all the rep bs attacks. Kudos to Sen Biden. I think he is a very intelligent and knowledgeable guy in foreign policy. Sen Obama made a very good pick, although I like Hiliary too. I used to think that Sen McCain was an alright rep/. but now he has given up his integrity to win by any means necessary. I thought he was a better man than that. Palin is a joke.

    September 12, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Nate HUSSEIN

    If I read th article right, he and his wife made 21/2 Million dollars in the past 10 yrs. and they only have 150,000 left. As far as I'm concerned that's a lot of money, but what did they do with the rest? They make 250,000 dollars a year. My husband and I could live for 5yrs. on that. And you try to say he is in touch with regular American people.

    It is a lot of money, but his income is a lot closer to most "regular American people's" than McCains. Get a clue.

    September 12, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Patricia Collins

    I don't see where Biden is hurting from his job in Washington. Let him try living on minimum wages like alot of Americans do! Let him pay the gas prices at the pump while making minimum wages and figure out whether he can afford to eat....that is what alot of Americans are going through. Some Americans don't even have a job!

    I do not care to hear no member of congress complain how much and/or how little a member of congress or the senate makes as I feel they are all making way too much! A state employee doesn't draw that type of salary so for Biden to complain about being the poorest member of Washington at this point is outrageous! BE GLAD YOU HAVE A JOB!!!! That is what we are told when we complain about not making enough to cover the out of control inflation facing this country because of money grubbing oil companies! Some people don't have a job and wonder what they are going to do. So just cry me a river! Instead of complaining try taking a pay cut to help balance the budget! By doing so it would commitment on Washington's part of trying to balance a budget.

    September 12, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Ron

    as this man got an inferiority complex? he seems like a nice guy but always apologising for not measuring up.

    September 12, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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