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. CFL

    Your CHANGE senator recieved a BILLION DOLLARS in EARMARKS last year.


    September 12, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. pa.joe

    No wonder hes running for VP, he needs the money!
    Hang in there Joe, we'll get ya that pay raise!!

    September 12, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Bill

    Mr Marine you are part of the problem. If you people didn't keep volunteering you woulodnt be in places like Bagdad. With Obama/Biden, kids will go to school for free and not have to join the marines or army. You marines are just as part of the problem as Bush is, you are killers and you are WRONG. Obama hates the military, just like we do so get out yourself, you put yourself there! Obama/Biden 08/12!!!

    September 12, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  4. SteveC

    I suspect he was "Slow Joe" before he enter the congress. Near the bottom in college, near the bottom in law school and can't shut up. Those do not describe a top tier guy.

    September 12, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  5. Audrey Fryer

    To all you bloggers complaining about Sen. Obama's supposed "Socialism" – what in heaven's name do you call your current Government bail-out of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and now behind closed doors, Lehman Bros.

    September 12, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. Dori in AZ

    Joe Biden is an honest man. Obama is an honest man. Not perfect people, just honest people.

    Sarah Palin has attorneys doing everything they can to derail the investigations of her & her staff. So much for "cooperation" & honesty. Now that they're going to subpoena Todd, I'm sure they'll work to derail that, too.

    John & Cindy Hensley McCain have hidden many things, including her TRUE recorded family history (her dad and uncle were federally convicted criminals with quite a history, very different than the fairytale story she spins for the public – Phoenix New Times 2000 article).

    Her history of drug abuse & drug thefts from her charity left a wave of destruction, & the McCain cover up to protect themselves & their images was at great expense to others. (See yesterday's 9-11-08 Washington Post for newest details. And, there are more on other sites, like the Huffington Post, & the ORIGINAL article from the Phoenix New Times in 1994.) The cover up has continued, and the info is available. If you are going to vote for this man, at least learn more about how he & his wife wield power.

    September 12, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  7. CFL

    For those of you that believe it is a sin to make money – get real. One line berates Mrs McCain for having money ( being succesful) and then the next line says you wish you made Sen Bidens money. Which is it ? It's only GOOD if a liberal makes money or what ?

    September 12, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. Tupac

    Now that's an average Joe. I bet he can remember how many homes he owns without first asking his campagine aids.

    September 12, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. Karen

    Thanks for keeping your eye on the ball! We're rooting for you (for us!)!

    September 12, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  10. Palin is Corrupt

    Can McCain and Palin ever tell the truth? They consistently lie without "blinking". Their TV ads have been proven to be full of lies and distortions. Do they even know what the truth is anymore? How can any American trust these two to do anything they say when they continually lie about themselves and when Palin is now trying to interfere with the investigation of her abuse of power as Governor? I have no respect for either of them. They have no character and are dangerous for America. If they can't tell the truth now, will they tell the truth if voters are stupid enough to elect them? What a scary thought to have 2 more leaders in the White House who lie and mislead Americans to subvert the Constitution and do as they please.

    September 12, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |


    September 12, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. Jessica

    What a shame that Palin is making such a show out of her son's deployment to Iraq.

    She could learn a thing or two from Joe Biden – his son is shipping out to Iraq on October 3, but you'd never know it because he chooses not to EXPLOIT HIS CHILD for political gain.

    September 12, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. IK

    I hate to say it, but it is time for Biden to step aside voluntarily and for Obama to invite Hillary to join the ticket. I love Biden, but there is only one way to stop the incomprehensible excitement over Palin. Biden himself suggested that Hillary might have been the better pick for VP. Nothing would change the nature of press coverage more dramatically than to replace Biden with Hillary. A Hillary-Palin vice-presidential debate would also allow for a comparison between two strong women: between one who knows things that are relevant to the vice presidency and presidency, and one who doesn't. Joe, do it for the sake of the country! Four more years of Republican bluster and mismanagement may do irreparable damage.

    September 12, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. deroy

    what about his FIVE draft deferments?

    did he go to dick cheney training school?
    FIVE draft deferments and then rejected on a technicality.
    there is no documenation on his 'ASTHMA AS A TEENAGER'.
    so at age 25 1/2 he was relieved on military service.

    who took joe biden's place in VIETNAM?

    biden finished 76 out of 85 at syracuse law school after his FIVE deferments,

    don't forget his son r. hunter biden is a lobbyist who owns a lobby law firm.
    the tax returns have been pre-reviewd by accountants.
    everyone knows that.

    September 12, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Steve-o

    So Biden earned way way more than I did and somehow he paid ~20.6% in tax which is almost the same % as me. It seems old joe must be using some big loopholes or write offs to shield his earnings. To bad those aren't available to the rest of us. He must be special.

    September 12, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. Greg W

    I love how CNN spins that $320,000 is a "relatively small" salary. Give me a break. Ask the blue collar workers around the country who break their backs every day to earn a fraction of that feel about that spin.

    September 12, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. hkfears

    Why isn't there a mention of how much he gave to charity?

    Despite income ranging from $210,432 – $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 – $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% – 0.31% of their income.

    John McCain average 27.3% – 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007. During the same period, the Obamas' tax returns show that they gave 5.8% – 6.1% of their income to charity.

    September 12, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  18. Alice

    Sure, McCain gave more to charity than Biden (or Obama). When you have $100 million, you can spare alot more that when you have $100,000 (or one million).

    Plus, you get a nice fat deduction for charitable contributions on your income taxes. Which, when you have $100 million, you need.

    September 12, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. joebloe

    Why isn't Sarah "Queen of Pork" Palin's lackluster interview making more news? This is a women who wants the government to get into your personal decisions regarding reproduction. She wants to get into war with Russia! She has a history of bullying people who don't agree with her politically.

    What was John Mc Bush thinking? He says he wants to change Washington DC, but the way he shows that, is to pick a very polarizing and partisan vp.

    I have heard nothing but slogans and empty phrases from the Mc-Bush/Palin ticket. When will he actually talk about issues? Oh yea, he doesn't want you to remember what HIS REPUBLICAN party has done to our country.

    If you look at what McCain's health-care plan is, you see that he will tax you if you get health benefits at work. How does that help?

    September 12, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  20. Rob indetroit

    MCcain was "drilled" on the view, HA,HA,HA,HA, LoL!!!!!!.

    September 12, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  21. Unshrub

    Some of you republicans have big mouths. You can find something wrong with a sunrise.

    September 12, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. R. Cooper

    Ok Sarah, where's your tax returns?

    September 12, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  23. Patty

    How can someone with this income have so little net worth? Doesn't this man or his wife have a 40l or 403b or IRA? They also pay over $35,000 in mtg. interest per year. That's some huge mortgage. Wouldn't you think they would have built up some equity? Sounds like someone with their income must be pretty bad at managing money or they would be worth more than the $200,000 they claim.

    September 12, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    McBarbie told the gals on the View that How may Houses they own is non of the American people's business!! How's that for transparency...

    September 12, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. Greg W

    Hey "bob", let's not mix fact with fiction.

    McCain has been very open with the fact that his affair with Cindy while married to his first wife was one of the greatest moral failings of his life. As a liberal, I thought your mantra was that you were tolerant of moral failings, unless of course they're committed by Republicans (no hypocrisy there).

    As for the lobbyist – there's not a shred of evidence of that. Get a real job you yellowjournalist.

    As for Palin – I know she has you Democrats running scared – there is merely an investigation going on. No charges have been filed and if you checked your facts, you'd know that of the 10+ people that have been interviewed so far regarding the firing in question, not a single one has indicated that Palin wanted the man fired.

    Again, facts get in the way, I know. You go back to listening to Air America "bob." I bet they have all the "facts" you need.

    September 12, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
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