One of the things you get to do as president of the United States is have the whole world (or at least the world of picky journalists) pore over your tax returns. Total income, the rate at which you’re taxed, investment gains or losses, charitable contributions and other deductions – it’s all there for the public to peruse.
Many of you (us) no doubt are sweating Monday’s April 15 deadline when the IRS comes calling. But for the Obamas and the Bidens, the White House on Friday issued their tax returns early. Oh, goody! Let’s take a look, shall we?
Bottom line: an adjusted gross income of $608,611 on which Barack and Michelle Obama – identified as “US President” and “US First Lady” – paid $112,214 in total tax for an effective federal income-tax rate of 18.4 percent.
At which point, White House press secretary Jay Carney, in releasing the 38-page filing, felt the need to note: "The president believes we must reform our tax system, which is why he has proposed policies like the Buffett Rule that would ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share while protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up.”
“Under the president’s own tax proposals,” Mr. Carney continued, “including limitations on the value of tax preferences for high-income households, he would pay more in taxes while ensuring we cut taxes for the middle class and those trying to get in it.”
More details on the Obamas' tax filing:
In addition to his presidential salary ($400,000), Obama made $258,772 – much of it from book royalties, including the children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A letter to my daughters.” Of this amount, he donates $103,871 to the Fisher House Foundation, which supports military families by providing residences on the grounds of military hospitals, among other activities.
Among the other organizations that received charitable donations were the American Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club, and Sidwell Friends School, where their daughters, Malia and Sasha, are enrolled.
In all, Mr. and Mrs. Obama reported donating $150,034 – or about 24.6 percent of their adjusted gross income – to 33 different charities.
In addition to federal income taxes, the Obamas paid $29,450 in state income tax to Illinois. Itemized deductions include $26,751 in real estate taxes and $45,046 in mortgage interest.
Obama counts himself among the wealthiest Americans, but his annual income has been dropping in recent years, largely due to a decline in book royalties. For 2011, the Obamas reported paying federal income taxes totaling $162,074, plus $31,941 in Illinois state income taxes, on $789,674 in income.
“While that’s far above the average American salary, it’s a lot less than in his each of his first two years as president,” Politico reported at the time. “In 2010, the Obamas reported a gross adjusted income of $1,795,614 and paid federal income taxes of 23 percent. In 2009, they reported a gross adjusted income of $5,505,409, including $1.4 million in Nobel Prize award money.” (Obama donated his Nobel winnings to charities, including the Fisher House Foundation and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.)
The White House announced last week that Obama will turn back to the Treasury Department 5 percent of his salary this year ($20,000) as a sign of solidarity with government employees affected by the sequester.
Vice President Joe Biden, who grossed just over half of what the president did in 2012, “has said he will share the pain of sequestration that his office's staff [members] face, but has not yet detailed what that would mean,” according to Politico.
For 2012, Joe and Jill Biden reported an adjusted gross income of $385,072 on which they paid $87,851 in federal taxes. They paid $13,531 in Delaware income tax and $3,593 in Virginia income tax, as well. They have a residence in Delaware, and Dr. Biden teaches at a community college in Virginia.
The Bidens gave $7,190 to charity in 2012, including $2,400 to the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. Donations of furniture, household goods, and exercise equipment were valued at $2,000.
While most of their income came from salaries, the couple also grossed $26,400 from renting a cottage on the property of their Delaware home to the Secret Service, Politico reports. They netted $17,944 on that amount.