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. Janice Il

    I like Joe too, but keep it in mind that he has been in Washington right along side of McCain for years and it is what it is, down hill all the way and how did Joe vote in the Bush years?I wonder if we will ever get results from anyone ,just so scary, but we must keep trying to get it right.

    September 12, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. Grace Corcoran

    Joe Biden has forgotten more than Sarah Palin will ever know in her lifetime. No matter what anyone says - Sarah is Dick Cheney in drag. And can our country take more of Bush/Cheney? McBush/Paleney will be more of the same - they don't know what change means!!! Needs to be an investigation of all the purging of voters who have lost their homes to foreclosure - investigate the farce of an "election" in DC - investigate what each state is doing to purge voters who vote Democratic. If someone is running for President/Vice President than their tax returns should be released to the public for review - all joint tax returns of the candidates should be released NOW – not whenever they can be redacted. Gotta love Charlie coaching Sarah when she couldn't answer the Bush Doctrine question.

    September 12, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  3. Jane

    I feel sorry for him...wink....wink. He still makes more than the average American citizen. Are we suppose to be appalled he is not rich like the rest of the lifelong slugfest senators???? Anyway, this guy reminds me of a used car saleman.

    September 12, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  4. Michael Ray Thompson

    I think this just goes to show that it
    s time for time limits. Joe Biden has been in Congress too long!

    September 12, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  5. Richard

    Jill Biden has a Ph.D and would, in any other Univeristy system, be a full professor and be referred to as "professor". Please do not call her a "teacher"

    September 12, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  6. Pete

    As a 76-year-old Republican, I say hurray for Joe Biden. He and Obama have my vote.

    September 12, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  7. Kyle

    At a Missouri fundraiser recently, Biden asked a local Democratic state politician to stand up and be recognized for his lifetime of service in government. Gaffe-master Joe didn't see that the politician was in a wheelchair. It turns out he was a paraplegic.

    Biden has also joked about how you can't get a job in a 7-11 in his town if you don't have an Indian accent.

    The Biden gaffe list goes on...

    Make no mistake, libs, Dan Quayle is in this election. His name is Joe Biden. Democrats are headed towards one of their biggest flameouts in political history with the Obama/Biden trainwreck that is unfolding before their eyes.

    And by the way, libs, those seats you won in congress in '06 aren't looking too safe either. You can thank deer-in-the-headlights Pelosi and her Democratic congress's 9% approval rating for that.

    September 12, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. Independent99999

    Joe – one way to get rid of these income taxes and garbage and trash talking rich vs. poor is to endorse Fair Taxes (

    Last thing we need is a social divide between rich vs. poor now

    Let all Americans be rich on their own merits and govt. taking care of larger mutual issues like defense, security, fire, roads, ...

    September 12, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  9. Typical White Man

    There is no shame in being rich and just because you are rich doesn't mean you should be taxed for the benefit of those who are not. They have tried that many times before, its called Communism and it always fails miserably!

    September 12, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. No Hillary = No Obama

    Who cares.

    September 12, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. Colo Sprgs, CO

    Go, Joe! Obama/Biden '08!

    September 12, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  12. Hopeful

    Jill Biden is a teacher in Delaware and draws a salary of about $66,000. That is shameful...another example of our unsung and grossly underpaid heroes (teachers), OBAMA/BIDEN

    September 12, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. jonathan

    Poor guy...ONLY makes $300k a year. Yeah, he's just like us...Pitty on him. How could he possibly feed his family or pay the light bill? Give this man the money he needs to live!

    Come on, let's not pretend ANY of these candidates even remotely understand the hardships of the average everyday American. Washington is a country club, eons away from the reality most of us face.

    September 12, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. Ray M.

    The right wing sycophants are really perverse to find fault with someone who hasn't abused his status and position of power to become rich at the taxpayers expense. But, of course, it is beyond their comprehension that someone would not take personal advantage of the opportunity since that's their primary purpose in running for office.

    September 12, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |

    Who cares !

    September 12, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. Observer

    Joe, I always knew you were a man I was proud to respect! This goes to show you're in government service for us, and not for the junkets and the money! Go Joe!!!

    September 12, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  17. Ed

    Kinda like the pool sweeper that lives in a million dollar home. Something is amiss with these tax returns. Its not what you report. Its what you don't report. Kinda like putting lipstick on a pig.

    September 12, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. American woman for Obama/Biden

    For those of you criticizing Biden's donations to charity. I ask you, how much did you give to charity in the last year? I bet it doesnt even come close to what Biden gave,.

    September 12, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  19. Heather Peterson

    I just love Biden...he was my second pick and I am thrilled. Now give me Richardson as Secretary of State and I'll be in heaven.

    September 12, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. DBrya

    Has anyone read Joe's biography?. He too has a son going to war this October.This info was on Obama's website before Palin's pick. He is not bragging about it like Sarah. The Republicans used Sarah's son going to war politically in the first week they introduced her. Joe is very humble.

    September 12, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. Dill

    I have several questions has John McCain ever been without health insurance? How can he ask American's not to get relief for healthcare from the government when he has had government sponsered insurance most or not for all of his life. I read an article that he was covered as a child by government military health insurance through his father, then he joined the military and was government covered healthcare and now he is in the Senate with government covered healthcare. How come this is okay for him to have an entire lifetime of government sponsered healthcare but not good enough for us regular guys out here?

    September 12, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  22. Gizmo

    Boo hoo, only 300K. Not bad for a plagiarist. Yup, the Dems' kind of guy.

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

    Why it is so bad to be rich, last time I checked we live in capitalist country.

    September 12, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  24. cherie

    I really dont give a darn about anybodys tax return Im voting for who I think is the best for my country and will keep it the safest

    September 12, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  25. Barbara - Georgia

    This is what you call vetting a Vice-president...nothing to hide.


    September 12, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
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