Most of President Obama’s income in 2012 came from his presidential salary as opposed to sales of his two best-selling books, this time around.
From the White House:
Today, the President released his 2012 federal income tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $608,611. The Obamas paid $112,214 in total tax.
The President and First Lady also reported donating $150,034 – or about 24.6 percent of their adjusted gross income – to 33 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was $103,871 to the Fisher House Foundation.
The President’s effective federal income tax rate is 18.4 percent. 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, 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.
The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $29,450 in state income tax.
In 2012, the president and first lady paid about $112,000 in federal income taxes. The White House said their effective tax rate was 18.4 percent, but added that it would have been more if Republicans would accept his tax proposals.
“Under the president’s own tax proposals, 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,” Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, said in a statement on the White House Web site.
The effective tax rate quickly generated some criticism on Twitter from people who recalled Democratic criticisms of Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. Mr. Romney reported an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent in 2011.
Like Mr. Romney, who donated nearly 30 percent of his 2011 income to charity, Mr. Obama and his wife also lowered their effective tax rate by giving away a substantial portion of their income. (Mr. Romney and his wife did not claim their full charitable deduction; had they done so, the effective tax rate would have been lower.)
The president’s own tax return demonstrates that the wealthy could and should be contributing more. The federal tax system is tilted so heavily towards the wealthy that President and First Lady Obama only paid a 7% higher rate than most middle class families. To his credit, the president isn’t another millionaire in the White House trying to pretend like he is a regular guy by posing for photo-ops of himself cutting brush.
President Obama has been a warrior for tax fairness. He is so committed to the cause that he is willing to hold himself up as an example of what is wrong with the system. The president’s honesty and commitment to a more equitable tax system should be beyond question.
Here’s a question (nothing novel): If President Obama doesn’t like his low effective tax rate of 18.4%, what’s preventing him from simply giving more of his earnings to Uncle Sam? Lead from the front by example? If he cannot coerce legislation, then how about he coerce “the wealthy” into giving more of their own free will?(Last year, Carney called such a suggestion “a gimmick”). And if he had, would he still have given as generously as he and Michelle did to charities last year? Would he have donated the same amount?
I won’t make an issue of VP Biden’s charitable contribution in proportion to that of the president.