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. Danny in Chicago

    It's about time Joe get some props! Keep it up Joe, we're countin' on ya!

    September 12, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  2. Marc PDX

    Biden earned $320k and only paid $66k in taxes? That's 20%. How'd he find his way into that tax bracket? Aren't Democrats playing fair here? My wife and I earn a little more than half that and also pay $66k in taxes. How'd do I get that kind of deal? Do I have to become a Democrat? Or a HYPOCRAT?

    September 12, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  3. tom, valley forge, PA

    Poor guy, only makes 250 k a year. I guess he thinks that he is so poor that he can't give any to charity. Typical Dem.

    September 12, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. Marc PDX

    ...AND remember: Joe Biden "is among the POOREST"... that means all the other DEMOCRATS make MORE THAN THAT! (But they say they aren't ELISTS?) Huh?

    September 12, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. Victoria Anderson - Seattle, Washington

    Sarah looks mean in scary. I don't trust her. She looks like an undercover Witch.........

    September 12, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  6. McCainosaurus

    I will pay more (perhaps a lot more) in taxes if Obama gets elected. And yet paying taxes is patriotic too, perhaps more so than the "professional patriotism" of the right. I pay taxes in part because I have a vision of this country and that vision does indeed extend to causes greater than myself. Somehow asking poor kids to join the Army and serve the cause greater than themselves is fine and patriotic, yet asking the richest people in the Nation to write a check for the same reason is not.

    Obama '08

    September 12, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. How the mighty have fallen ...

    Rangel must be doing his tax returns

    September 12, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. James

    Poor Joe ONLY made $300,000.00 last year, Gee I feel so bad for that poor man. He is not a millionair because he has been living off the people of Delaware for the past 35 years. Most Senators made thier whealth before joining politics. I also have approx. 30 years of Federal and state service and I ONLY made $50,000.00 last year. Anyone out the feel sorry for me?

    September 12, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. Sheri

    If some would rather vote 4 more years of the same policies as Bush something is wrong. Many people are hurting and some that are voting for McCain. What is the logic here? It is RACE!

    Some people would rather suffer greatly than to elect someone different from them.

    September 12, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  10. Edward

    Joe is indeed quality. A curious intellect, effort to help in public service, devoid of the corrupt and deceitful ways of the typical politician in Washington. Imagine for a moment a Congress and Executive Branch, all with the integrity of Joe Biden, and we'd have an honest government.

    Imagine a Congress and Executive Branch with all Sarah Palin's. Need I say anymore.

    September 12, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. Also dreaming

    Mr. Obama's plan is also a dream. But to try and achieve it, would mean we would have to roll up our sleeves and work together. I love this country. What's with this high school popularity contest? This is ridiculous! I want to hear the facts about what's really happening to the people of this country. All this back and forth reminds me of my daughter and her friends. (I only have a daughter. I don't know what boys do.) We've become so polarized. Everyone who believes "this", lives here. Everyone who believes "that" lives there. We smile and or scoff when our paths cross, but mostly it's "them" and "us". IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID!! Bush has DESTROYED this country. Bush created the bubble that destroyed the housing market. The domino effect is BLINDING. People are suffering. Most work so hard to get from month to month. People have lost their homes. Parents have to borrow huge sums of money to send their kids to the college. We raised them to work hard in order to get into good schools only to find out you have to go into debt to pay for it. What do you tell your child? "I'm sorry, I know you did your part, but no can do." ??? What's happening in this country is REAL! Let's act like the adults we say we are and do the best we can to reverse the effects of the last eight years. THINK ABOUT OUR CHILDREN!

    We all know how to shop. When you shop for a car, house, ...groceries. You look at the price, the ingredients... You shop and compare and then you "makes your choice". Everything else is just noise. GROW UP!

    September 12, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  12. Palin the Truth hurts.

    The Sarah Confessions:

    She admits to being a former Ear Mark Addict.
    She says the Ear Marks that she accepted were in the light of day.

    But she is going to change..

    She was a Bank Rober ..but she only robbed them "in the light of day"
    She wants to expose those robbers that rob in the dark

    She was a Snake but she only slithered "in the light of day"
    She wants to expose those snakes that slither in the dark.

    She was a heroin addict but only in broad daylight ??
    She didnt try to hide it its ok..??

    This Lady is WACKO..

    September 12, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  13. Ian

    I don't care what anybody says, I'm voting third party this year.

    September 12, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  14. RealityKing

    66,000 in taxes!? Why didn't Joe Biden pay his self-described fair share of taxes? It's very very easy to pay more and the government never refuses.. Or do democrats have to have their beliefs forced onto them!!??

    September 12, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  15. Nat, NYC

    Last year Senate was in session just 66 days. If Biden wants more money he needs a second job.

    September 12, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. LSW

    If Biden made over $300,000 – why did he pay only $66,000 in taxes? Seems like he found a loophole in the tax system!

    September 12, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  17. Ron

    is sen. Obama going to admit his judgement is not perfect by having sen. Biden suddenly have personal problem or something so Hillary can come on the ticket. it will only bring comments of another friend under the bus, and I'm sure the sympathy shown to Biden by the public, will backfire on him.

    September 12, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  18. drill4oil

    I didn't know Cindy McCain was running for president

    September 12, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  19. Ron

    to tce

    how about all the blue collar workers that are working for her company and spending money they earn in their community. think maybe she should make people like you happy and sell out to some foreign interest who would probably close it

    September 12, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  20. Independent voter

    This comes to show when you run for a public office you need to be ready for public scritiny of your "life".
    Not ready to stand the heat get out the kitchen or better yet don't get even near to the kitchen.

    September 12, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  21. Christian

    There is no comparrison between Biden and Palin. He actually knows constitutional law, has experience, real experience with National Security. I could care less if the VP can shoot a Moose or is a pit bull with lipstick. Joe Biden is a decent guy who is a fairly normal, professional in America, prepared for the job.

    September 12, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  22. scoot

    wow if you dems dont just get off on tax returns. maybe if you cared so much about what your god sez then things would be diffrent and you would here the Shieet that comes out of his mouth. almost all of his plans will break us.

    September 12, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  23. ME IN FL

    Should we feel sorry for him???????????? He is not the best choice for the VP position, he said Hillary was better, he is not a good debater and on top of all that he makes less than anyone else in the Senate!!! Joe, for God's sake retire!!!! You have brought nothing to this ticket!!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  24. GOP for OBAMA

    Why did McSame called Hillary a Pig?

    That offended me!!

    September 12, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  25. OBAMA>'08

    Nice one Biden !.......... Wha ? honesty and humilty in Washington ??? what are the republicans gonna do? Karl Rove is a fat doughy lying piece of dung, he is running McCain's campaign, which will lose.

    September 12, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
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