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. bob

    Republicans... the party of family values... do as we say, not as we do!

    McCain the Adulterer – dumped first wife for the very rich woman he cheated on her with. Cheat on current wife with lobbyist.

    Palin the Liar – said no thanks to the bridge to nowhere... after asking for the money in the first place... and then kept the money. Being investigated for ethics violations.

    Guess values only matter for your opponents...

    September 12, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  2. Suzanne Madison

    We love you...Biden!! Keep pushing on!!

    Obama-Biden2008 Supporter

    September 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Hoku

    Well, this is another good reason why Joe was picked by Obama. Biden is eliminating the scrutiny factor and putting the onuses on the Republican party ticket.

    September 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Pat Riot

    Again this information is irrelevant. I'd rather talk about how we as American's allow the government to continue to practice a coercive method of revenue generation. If you don't like the Iraq war, corporate bailouts or runaway spending you better believe you still have to pay your taxes. If you don't they throw you in jail and take your home. That is the very definition of tyranny. There is another way and in pressing times like these we need to discuss real tax reform.

    September 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. Pam Holt Los Angeles, CA

    US Marine September 12th, 2008 5:03 pm ET

    Sen Joe Biden, I have respect for sir. Let us see if Mccain and Cindy mccain can release just last year income.
    Straight from baghdad i want you and obama to bring us home sir.

    US Marine, we want you home too!!! Stay safe!

    For those of you not voting Democratic: You must have been asleep for the last 8 years. WAKE UP!

    September 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. nyc

    Does anybody find it odd that a guy who averaged making $245,000/year for the past 10 years would claim to be poor?

    Does anybody find it odd that a guy who made over $300,000 gave only $995 to charity? I guess if he goes to church he puts a $20 a week in the basket.

    Does anybody find it odd that a guy making over $300,000/year has no apparent savings. Where did all his money go? He even has a big mortgage since he wrote off over $38,000 in mortgage interest last year. With that much interest it must be over $500,000.

    This does not make sense to me.

    September 12, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. fixthebroken

    ....and also let me say this. Some people don't put every dime they give to charity on their tax returns. Some people actually give without worrying about the tax implications. I am sure the Republicans of today would worry about that.

    September 12, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |

    obama is showing his true colors attacking McCain over his inability to use computers. Being a president is not about whether you know how to use a blackberry but about honesty, service, and good judgement.

    September 12, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Lorna, NY

    They will release the returns when they feel like it. And, the media is not hammering them for this? WHERE IS THE MEDIA? PLEASE DO YOUR JOBS!

    September 12, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  10. Ron

    Is Biden going to take the Amtrak home each night when he is a V.P.? What is that all about????

    September 12, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  11. mike

    the Palin returns could be very interesting,

    September 12, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Antoinette from New Carrollton, MD

    I love how the ladies on the view ripped McCain in two

    September 12, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  13. Agnes

    a scary day if MCCain wins....

    for all the people who support and fight for lies and distorted truth to fit their needs to win(McCain campain, against Obama), what are you going to do if the "change" McCain and absolutely clueless, power greedy, blind Palin promote will further put us in debt, puts as a ridicule to the rest of the world, and compromises our safety, based on what they say... and who knows what they will do?

    true leaders, that speak for the people and will work for the people!

    September 12, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. Al

    well your *rich* by far in character and experience Senator biden
    thats what really counts!!

    September 12, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Sally from Cali

    McCain said $5 million is rich. So Biden is poor by those standards and the rest of us are dirt poor.

    This is a man you is not in the pocket of lobbyists. He takes the train home at night from DC.

    Thanks Senator Biden for being so open.

    September 12, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. Megan from San Diego

    I love how when McCain wants to do something, it has to be "on his timetable" but then he turns around and bashes Obama for not doing a town hall meeting because "he told him to".

    Guess what John, you are not in charge and hopefully NEVER EVER will be!

    September 12, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. bk

    Mary VA
    You won't see 'Bush Doctrine.' There are many different intrupitations and apparently Charlie thought there was just one. Many people have already stated it was an unfair question, including Mayor Daily a Obama supporter.

    September 12, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  18. Obama is laughable

    In his new ad Obama looks directly into the camera and defines a leader of real change ending with: "You need a leader that can unite the country". Ha ha ha, as a yellow dog liberal who has voted straight democrat for the last 40 years, I'm dismayed that the man who can't even unite his own party can display such hypocrisy. He's not ready, nor will he ever be. Hubris, pride, arrogance, conceit, deception, these are Obama's traits that undermine his character and debilitate any effectiveness, he is a pompous bird and arrogant SOB. I voted for Hillary, I will vote for experience again, with McCain. Liberal for McCain 2008.

    September 12, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  19. bk

    Who cares about tax returns. Nobody.

    September 12, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. NC for Obama

    Of course Biden's tax returns are what he said they were. He tells the truth. Palin, on the other hand, lies constantly and is trying to block the investigation against her going on In Alaska. She must be guilty if she is trying to hide data and telling her aides not to cooperate. She is in her daily role of "victim". I think the American people are the victim of an unqualified, corrupt and dangerously extremist VP candidate.

    September 12, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  21. No Honor

    Palin is simply a distraction who spouts out little half-truths, lies and one-liners written by the likes of Tucker Eskew and Steve Schmidt.

    How pathetic is it that McCain actually HIRED the same guy who blew him out of the water for BUSH in 2000 with the "McCain has a black baby" swiftboat campaign?

    I know McCain couldn't define honor.... I guess that is because he sold what remained of his honor to pay Tucker Eskew's salary.

    September 12, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  22. Joshua College Station Texas

    I don't think money makes the man. I'm proud of Joe Biden for devoting his life to service and for not getting caught up in the establishment and materialism. Joe Biden is a man who is rich in character. Joe Biden is a national hero.

    September 12, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  23. McCain/Palin

    To Frank- John MCCAIN was joking when he said that. He wasn't always rich. Didn't you watch the interview.

    September 12, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  24. Jim

    Sen. Biden is a decent family man, a Catholic, a public servant who has not sought to enrich himself, owns one house, is an expert in foreign affairs. He's someone all Americans can trust to lead our country in the event the president became disabled.

    Sen, Biden has released his and his wife's tax returns. That is an absolute requirement for seeking high office.

    The Republican candidates (and their spouses) are morally obligated to release their tax returns. That is an absolute requirement for seeking high office. No if's or hemming and hawing or "on their own timeframe."

    September 12, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  25. Stacy in So Cal

    Transparency, I like it.

    September 12, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
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