The Who2 Blog

Barack Obama IS the Six Million Dollar President

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama paid $1.8 million in taxes this year on a gross adjusted income of $5.5 million.  (Most of the dough came from book sales, and it boiled down to $4.98 million in final taxable income.)

Toss in the $1.4 million he earned for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and Barack Obama is your first Six Million Dollar President!

austin1.jpgOh, there’s no way to know for sure whether John Kennedy or Herbert Hoover ever earned six million bucks while president, because they didn’t release tax returns in those days.  But if Hoover was pulling down six bills in 1929 — $76.3 million in 2010 dollars — we tip our cap to him.

We do have presidential returns going back to Jimmy Carter.  So let’s see how the Six Million Dollar President stacks up against other presidents for their first year in office. 

=> Barack Obama had $4.98 million in taxable income in 2009 and paid $1.79 million in tax. Tax rate: 35.9%.
=> George W. Bush had $711k in taxable income in 2001 and paid $250k in taxes. Tax rate: 35.1%

=> Bill Clinton had $222k in taxable income in 1993 and paid $63k in taxes. Tax rate: 28.2%
=> George Bush had $457k in taxable income in 1989 and paid $101k in taxes. Tax rate: 22%
=> Ronald Reagan had $307k in taxable income in 1981 and paid $165k in taxes. Tax rate: 53.7%
=> Jimmy Carter had $121k of taxable income in 1977 and paid $48k in taxes.  Tax rate: 39.7

(Note:  Carter’s actual wages were $236k and he had another $100k in dividends, but he also had a whopping $169k in deductible losses under “pensions, annuities, rents, royalties, partnerships, estates or trusts, etc.”  And Obama didn’t have to declare his $1.4 million for the Nobel because he had the Nobel Committee donate the money directly to charity.)

The best comparison to Obama is actually a VICE president: Dick Cheney.  In 2001, Cheney had taxable income of $4.31 million and paid $1.72 million tax, or a tax rate of 39.9%. 

Under those tax rates, with his comparable income, Obama would have paid an extra $199,000 in taxes.  So you could say that George W. Bush and his crazy tax cuts actually saved Barack Obama 200 grand in 2009.  Maybe they’ll have a laugh about it next time they talk.

(Props to the Tax History Project for the beautifully-organized returns cited here.)


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