Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year

ByABC News
September 12, 2008, 5:54 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife gave an average of $369 a year to charity during the past decade, his tax records show.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign today released 10 years' worth of tax returns for Biden, a senator from Delaware, and his wife Jill, a community college instructor. The Bidens reported earning $319,853 last year, including $71,000 in royalties for his memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.

The Bidens reported giving $995 in charitable donations last year about 0.3% of their income and the highest amount in the past decade. The low was $120 in 1999, about 0.1% of yearly income.

Over the decade, the Bidens reported a total of $3,690 in charitable donations, or 0.2% of their income.

Biden spokesman David Wade said in an e-mail that the Bidens "also contribute to their favorite causes with their time as well as their checkbooks." Wade said Jill Biden has volunteered to help military families and the family "pitched in driving supplies to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina."

Nationally, more than two-thirds of U.S. households reported giving to charity in 2004, with average contributions of $2,047 that year, according to a study released in January by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Those households who gave to charity averaged donations of about 3% of their income, says Patrick Rooney, the center's interim executive director.

Another study of wealthy households in 2005 found average yearly donations of $40,746 from people with incomes from $200,000 per year to $500,000 per year, Rooney says. But like most statistics on giving, those numbers are skewed upwards by a small number of people who give large amounts to charity, says Rooney, formerly the center's research director.

Other vice presidents have been criticized over their charitable contributions.

Then-Vice President Al Gore came under fire when his 1997 tax return showed only $353 in donations to charity; he and his wife, Tipper, gave $15,000 to charity, or nearly 7% of their income, in each of the following two years.