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. Alan Smith

    Let's do the math. Biden pays 20% income tax on over $300,000 and he wants to make the rich pay more. No wonder, he isn't paying his fair share. Democrats always want to get into someone elses wallet to pay for their loony give aways. It was once said, "there is no limit to the amount of good that one man can do with another man's money."

    September 12, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  2. Marnie21

    Obama picked a great VP, couldnt be happier

    September 12, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  3. MB

    I guess Biden's return doesnt list the $1 million his son made off of his vote for the credit card company bill. Biden's a regular guy, but his son gets rich off his votes.

    September 12, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. Catherine

    Thank you, Senator Biden for your honesty and transparency. It is a positive sign to all Americans that a politician can be honest and decent. It gives all hardworking Americans hope that with you and Senator Obama as our next president and vice president things will get better in the United States. God bless you.

    September 12, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. Scott Tucson

    And his running mate will raise his taxes even more!

    September 12, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. Joe Biden

    Dems Elitist? I don't think so. Want to know the 8th richest senator in the senate? Its John McMaverick.

    September 12, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  7. Bridget

    Playing offense instead of defense for once...good job Obama/Biden! Keep it up.

    September 12, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  8. Michelle

    Joe, please go after Palin on the issues. I think it is up to you to set her straight, on her issues. You need to throw some curve balls her way, fact check ,fact check, all the way. She does not have my attention, lets get back to the fact that she is another 4 years of a two termed Bush Admin. that has let his country and all americans down.
    350 million a day spent on the Iraq war? Ask Palin why did we go to war? Americans want to know why we are there? This does not make me unpatriotic, I love my country, I wish I could be proud of it again. Since Clinton has left the white house we have down nothing but go down hill. We are hated by countries who once adored us, now they fear us...we are in scary times...and she scares me more then McCain,
    he only picked her because his own conservative party didn't think he was conservative enough. Evil Karl Rove is somehwere and some how the mastermind of bringing Palin into the republican party!!!!

    September 12, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  9. Independent Just Decided to Vote for Obama

    He is NOT poor!

    He is a great man who manages to live on far better than I earn but far less than others in Congress.

    I admire Joe Biden and his family! They represent ME!

    Good luck with the election, Joe. You are my guy and why I will finally vote for Obama.

    September 12, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  10. Richard

    Graduating 76 out of 85 from law school is much better than 894 out of 899 from the Naval Academy. And it's hugely better than getting a journalism degree after attending 5 colleges for 5 years.

    Anyone want to compare those accomplishments with graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School?

    We need to elect the SMARTEST candidates. We don't need another ignoramus that is clueless about how to pronounce "nuclear".

    September 12, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  11. WH DC

    He represents what Public Service is all about. Not to mention Family Values. R-E-S-P-E-C-T that is what this means to me.

    Let's not allow those Crooks to take over for another 8 years. Just read about all the crap that has gone on for the last two Republican lead terms, if that doesn't spell it out for you, then you're obviously brainwashed and need to go get deprogrammed.

    September 12, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  12. wilson tita

    Lord Jesus, Protect and guide Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to Victory come November so we can change America and the world for the better.

    Thank you Jesus...

    September 12, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  13. WA Hill supporter

    Joe has credentials. Joe has the reputation. And Joe is a regular Joe.
    Nuf Said.
    Obama Biden 2008.

    September 12, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  14. joe

    So Biden says about his $320,000 2006 income is "I make a good salary". What does he think about the average persons salary? And how can he relate about me? More hogwash from the "good income elite"

    September 12, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  15. Cindy

    It just shows that some politcal figures don't just do it for the big bucks but to represent the people. Even though $245,000 is a whole lot of money looking at it from my perspective. I'm pretty sure Biden could easily increase his income by simply choosing to stay out of the politcal arena.

    September 12, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  16. ObamaMama

    I think Biden is wonderful. We need a hard working man like him, rather than a fact-stretching sensationalist like Sarah Palin!

    Go Obama/Biden

    September 12, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  17. AA

    That's right. Transparency for YOUR elected officials.

    Govt. is supposed to work for YOU. It is civil service. Read that again.

    How'd George W. do for you?
    What do you think captain POW will do?

    The single most overlooked statement that he made during his acceptance speech was the he admits making mistakes. Many of them. He is continuing to make them. Hard worker? Sure. War hero? OK (but I do not get how being captured automatically makes you a hero – no disrespect intended.)

    The bottom line here is that he has bad judgement. He is an uneducated self proclaimed hot-head who regrets most of his decisions.

    Add that to not knowing much about economics, or anything in the modern world and you have yet another 4yr, disaster waiting to happen. I won't even get to the scariest part of it, after having seen the female version of George W. in a couple of interviews, I shudder to think what would happen if she ever had to be in charge of anything on a national or international scale.


    September 12, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  18. Karl

    I'm very pleased with Biden's release of his tax returns. The combined wisdom and progressiveness of the Obama/Biden ticket is true gift to our country. Let's hope we don't spoil this opportunity come election day.

    September 12, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  19. spacerook

    September 12th, 2008 7:40 pm ET
    Joe needs a raise – I earn more than he does.
    No WE should get all those perks and lobby
    kickbacks that most of these characters
    get. Both Democrat and Republican

    September 12, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  20. Obama Mania

    A man of the people....Obama/Biden

    September 12, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  21. Dill

    Doesn't John McCain support NAFTA, CAFTA and every other agreement that supports shipping our American jobs OUT OF THE COUNTRY. I hope American's enjoy being unemployed, keep voting Republican

    September 12, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  22. Paula

    Cindy McCains outfit at the convention (300,000) cost more than Biden's yearly income.

    September 12, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  23. Cam

    The Republicans will produce Palin's tax records immediately after rove and company have altered them to be squeeky clean.

    September 12, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  24. Bill Colorado

    2.5 Million in 10 years is poor?????? Give me a break!

    September 12, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  25. Leopold

    If there's any justice or sense left, there will be no need to worry about all this soon: Todd Palin's indictment should be the beginning of his wife's political end, and the question will only be whether she has to give up the governorship after she withdraws as VP. None of that is nearly so important as honoring the wishes of that marine, below.

    September 12, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
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