I suppose only a true tax nerd like myself thinks tax returns make good non-fiction reading. ;D It’s particularly interesting to me to see where President Obama derived his 2011 income and what he did with it once he had it.
I went page by page through President Obama’s return because I wanted to learn a little bit more about him. You can learn a LOT about someone by looking at their tax return. It can give you insights into how they live, what their values are, how well prepared they are for the future, if they are living above or below their means, if they are good at managing money, and so on.
Following are some of the highlights from Obama’s 2011 income tax return as well as links to several recent years’ worth of his tax documents.
Obama’s Personal Income Breakdown: Presidential Salary, Writing Income & More
Here’s a breakdown of the $844,585 total income that Barack and Michelle Obama reported on their 2011 tax return (most amounts rounded to the nearest thousand):
- $395,000 in W-2 Income. This is presumably all from being President, as that pays approximately $400k per year.
- $441,000 in Writing Income. Obama filed a Schedule C as an “author,” claiming income from publishers Random House and Dystel & Goderich.
- $11,000 in Interest Income.
- $(3,000) Capital Loss. He actually had quite a bit more to claim, but the law only allows for a maximum of $3k in capital losses.
- $700 in Royalties. The source of these royalties is not clear.
After deductions and exemptions, President Obama’s taxable income was $496,376. His final tax bill: $162,074.
More Details About President Obama’s 2011 Federal Income Tax Return
President Obama claimed a good bit of itemized deductions in 2011, and he donated a sizable portion of his income to charity. Here is a breakdown of some interesting tidbits obtained from Obama’s 2011 tax return:
- He claimed $278,498 worth of itemized deductions. Of that, approximately $48k was mortgage interest, $27k was real estate taxes, $32k was state income taxes, and a whopping $172k was charitable contributions.
- He gave the most money ($117k) to the Fisher House Organization. This represents proceeds from the sale of his book, “Of Thee I Sing.” You can read a little bit about the use of this donation and about the Fisher House organization in general at fisherhouse.org. The remainder of his charitable donations were smaller donations between $1k and $5k to over 35 different organizations.
- The Obama’s were subject to Alternative Minimum Tax. This added $12,491 to their overall tax bill.
- The President’s effective tax rate was 20.5% (that’s Adjusted Gross Income divided by Total Tax).
Presidential Income Tax Returns Available for Download Online
Anyone with internet access can download the President’s tax return for review or even printing. Here are links to the President’s three most recent federal income tax returns:
The biggest difference in the Obama’s returns year over year is the amount of writing income reported on Schedule C. The 2009 tax year brought a huge influx, with over $5,000,000 in writing income; in 2010, this amount went down to $1,500,000.
Other Presidental Tax Returns: Bush, Clinton, Nixon, Roosevelt, Candidates & More
Want to see more presidential tax returns after reading this? You can actually find historical tax returns as far back as the year 2000 for Barack Obama and many other past presidents the Tax Analysts’ website, taxhistory.org. Mitt Romney’s most recent returns are also published there.
Note: Most presidents only publish returns for actual years in office. There you’ll find links to tax returns for Roosevelt, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Sr., George W. Bush, some Vice Presidents, and recent presidential candidates.
For easy reference, here’s a link to Vice President Biden’s 2011 federal income tax return.
I learned a lot about our President from reviewing his latest tax return. If you have a chance to do the same or simply have comments based on what I shared above, I’d love to hear your thoughts!