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Obama's book sales keep income flush, tax returns show

The president earned $5.5 million in 2009 and paid nearly $1.8 million in federal taxes, according to tax returns. The Bidens report about $333,000 in income last year.

April 16, 2010|By Peter Nicholas

Reporting from Washington — Brisk book sales lifted President Obama's income to $5.5 million in his first year in office, an amount that dwarfs that of his recent predecessors while in power and reflects the public's continued willingness to pay to read his writings.

On tax day, the White House released 2009 returns showing that the Obamas' income more than doubled from the year before. They collected $2.7 million in 2008, and $4.2 million in 2007.

Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal taxes and $163,000 in Illinois state taxes. Forty charities received $329,100 from the Obamas in 2009, with the biggest chunk ($100,000) going to the United Negro College Fund and CARE, which combats world poverty. Separately, Obama donated his $1.4-million Nobel Peace Prize award to 10 charities. Because he asked the entire award money be sent directly to the charities, he did not have to report it as income.

The return was filed jointly by Obama and his wife, Michelle, who had no professional income in 2009, according to the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, reported an adjusted gross income of about $333,000 last year. They paid $71,147 in federal taxes and $13,897 in Delaware state taxes. The Biden family made charitable donations totaling $4,820.

Obama wrote "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," which secured his once precarious personal finances. Arriving for the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 2000, his credit card was rejected when he tried to rent a car.

Obama in December recalled a difficult period when he wasn't flush.

"We're not that far removed from struggling to pay the bills," he said. "Five, six years ago, we were still paying off student loans."

peter.nicholas@latimes.com

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