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Obamas release tax returns, show drop in income

April 12, 2013|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The couple released their tax returns Friday.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The couple released their… (Jewel Samad/ AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- President Obama’s income continued its recent creep downward in 2012, along with his effective federal income tax rate, according to the tax returns released Friday by the White House.

The president and first lady reported a joint adjusted gross income of $608,611, down from almost $790,000 in 2011. The Obamas paid $112,214 in federal taxes in 2012, for an 18.4% effective income tax rate.

In recent years, the president’s income has slipped as sale of his books appear to have tapered off. On a form noting his profession as “author,” the president  reported $273,000 in income from book sales, a 40% drop since last year. His government salary was $394,840.

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As he has in the past, Obama paid a relatively low effective tax rate for his income bracket in part because of his considerable donations to charity, which are deductible. The Obamas reported donating $150,034 -- about 24.6% of their adjusted gross income -- to various charities, including Habitat for Humanity, the University of Hawaii Foundation and the Palm Beach County Law Enforcement Foundation. The Obamas contributed $5,000 to Sidwell Friends School, their daughters’ private school. The largest recipient was the Fisher House Foundation, a veterans scholarship fund that receives proceeds from Obama’s 2010 children’s book, "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.”

The Obamas’ other deductions included $14,976 in business expenses, $50,000 in contributions to a retirement plan and $45,046 in mortgage interest on their home in Chicago.

The president has argued that some deductions for high-income taxpayers should be curbed to pay for deficit reduction, and just this week he included the so-called Buffett Rule in his 2014 budget. The provision would ensure that households making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30% of their income, after charitable giving, in taxes.

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Although that rule would not apply to the Obamas, the White House said Friday that the president believes he should pay more on tax day.

“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,” spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

The White House also released Vice President Joe Biden’s 2012 tax returns. He and Jill Biden reported adjusted gross income of $385,072 and paid $87,851 in total federal tax. The Bidens contributed $7,190 to charity in 2012.

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kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey

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