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. DJ Los Angeles

    You neo-cons need to stick a muzzle on it because unlike your McCain/Palin...Joe backed-up the talk of transparency.

    Where are McCain (don't forget Cindy now) and Palin's???

    September 12, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  2. Anita of georgia

    I think by biden releasing him financial information, being honest about the income of he and his wife just verify the impression I already had of him. Biden is a honest and trust worthy person. He is the type of person, that we as americans need in the White House. So many peoples has lost confidence in the past lying government officials, that when they see someone with his income make them think that he is trust worthy. We can believe he is in it to work hard to benefit the American peoples. He's not in it to see how far he can get ahead,and not caring who he walk on to get there. I just hope that Sarah Palin can justify the amount of money that she and her husband made in income too. We do not need anymore dishonest residents of the White House. We need someone that,s going to work for the American peoples to make it a better place to live. anita of Ga.

    September 12, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. Nicole

    Way to go Obama! I am impressed with this move, I will give you a point!

    Ok, McCain I want to see Palin returns. Surely if Biden can show his she can show hers! And please don't call this sexism!

    Obama/Biden = Nothing to Hide

    September 12, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  4. Ronna

    Wow! Cindy McCain paid more for her 300,000.00 outfit that she wore at the Republican Convention than Biden earns on average per annum.

    Who is the elitist?

    September 12, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  5. GARedNeck

    And the answer is yes!!!

    September 12, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  6. OT: Floods In Galveston

    Anybody who is still in Galveston, is crazy. They've had a week to leave, and yet CNN shows people up to their necks in water. These people should fend for themselves because they were told to go.

    September 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. Tracey

    Ordinary people don't need to know the doctrine, but a republican VP candidate who has experience in foreign relations, is expected to know her party's position. She was very uncomfortable. Instead of her saying that she was not familiar or did not know, she tried to skirt around the issue, which came off clearly that she did not not about the doctrine. Then she tried to cheat by trying to reverse the question for better understanding. She is so unqualified! People, please wake up and she this woman and this party for want they really are! Don't you guys love and care about your country? Please make the right choice in Nov.

    September 12, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  8. Tony

    Please watch the Gibson, Palin interview! She is totally clueless!

    September 12, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. CLINTON 08



    September 12, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. BJGT

    I am one of those people in the top 5% of the income bracket who would benefit from the Republican agenda. I will exchange those financial benefits for a country where people can afford to feed their families, heat their homes, and get the education and health care they need.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 12, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. NervouslyAstonished in N Y

    Hello America, wake up . Do not allow these lieing Repugnican to hijack another election. They have sent off enough of our men and women to die in the name of lies. Oldman psyco. cant wait to continue this cruel act against decent citizens and documented resident who only wanted to serve their beloved country. Come on Americans, Never again. Mcain is an absent mided lunatic and his sidekick Sarah Palin is a loose cannon .

    September 12, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  12. Kelly

    Now I know why so many Europeans think we're idiots in this country. Somehow the McCain campaign dishes out terms like Elitist when the Obamas and Bidens make chump change compared to the McCain's but someone out there is buying all of this spin. Amazing to me. Simply amazing!

    September 12, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  13. leapfrog

    Why are we talking about this? Why isn't CNN discussing how ignorant Caribou Barbie sounded on the interview last night? The Bush Doctrine, indeed. That can be summed up with the phrase, "Shoot first, and ask questions later."

    September 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. Susan

    McCain and Palin will refuse to do the same, especially Princess cindy. The Elite one will deign that this beneath them!

    September 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. GARedNeck

    I guess we can't mention the lackluster military career of a certain presidential candidate. I give up after five times.

    September 12, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Peter of Oregon

    Biden's a stand up guy.

    September 12, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. CP

    This is my first time ever posting a comment related to politics. But I felt compelled to point out that according to Obama, the Biden's average household income puts them in the rich category. He should stop with the "poor" remarks.

    September 12, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. Jasmine in Germany

    The comment from "US Marine" (5:03 pm) (with English Language grammatical errors, which makes it even more heart-warming to me) brought me to tears. Obama called it a "dumb war", he was one of the very few who didn't get suckered into believing the lies. Dear Marine, please keep up your duties, but don't worry. Our country is working on stabilizing the area and getting you out as soon as safely possible. McCain said "100 years" (but he seems to have changed his mind in recent weeks). Obama said "as soon as possible" (from the very beginning). Please vote Obama/Biden, the team with the most national and international experience.

    September 12, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Cynthia

    It is September 12th now – when does she plan to release them. How long did it take for her to give her first interview? The McCain camp is really dragging their feet on everything. The people need to wake up before it is too late.

    September 12, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Billy



    September 12, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  21. lol

    biden's right obama should have picked hillary, at least she knows how make money! mccain/palin 08, hillary 2012

    September 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. janine

    What a great guy!!!

    September 12, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Joe Biden is exactly who and what he says he is. How refreshing. If only we had all been smart enough to nominate him.

    September 12, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. fixthebroken

    To the ignorant people who questioned Biden's charitable giving - that's just what I would expect. Misdirection, misleading, etc. So are you telling me the only way you can give to charity is through money? What about Habitat for Humanity? What about Meals on Wheels? It's called volunteering - so before going on spewing how uncharitable Biden is, why don't you ask him how much *time* he has donated in community service!

    September 12, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  25. McCain/Palin

    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.

    September 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17