Barack Obama’s tax return was released today by the White House. The filing shows that the president paid $160,000 in federal taxes in 2011. His gross income for the year was $789,674 a figure made up of his presidential salary and his book sales according to White House figures.
Critics of Obama will point to his effective tax rate of just over 20% as being lower than many who earn much less than the president. The current administration has beeen very vocal on tax fairness in America and for the last year have been talking up a pay your fair share attitude. Mr. Obama’s relatively low tax bite stems from charitable donations he made in the last year. His children’s book, Of Thee I Sing, has the proceeds from its sales given to a charity that helps veterans and military families deal with death and injury and provides scholarships for the children of the lost and disabled. His total spend on charitible donations in 2011 was over $172,000 more than he spent in taxes for the year.
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It could be argued that Mr.Obama’s true salary is higher as the fringe benefits he receives in his work are not counted in his earnings. This reasoning, though often evoked, is not very useful in any analysis of the president’s day to day doings. Barack Obama earned his money this year from his presidential salary and his proceeds as an author. The motivatioin for the publicity surrounding the release of the tax return is more interesting. The Obama reelection campaign, which is revving up to face the Republicans for a November election, has bee hounding the presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney about his failure to release more of his own tax returns. The Romney campaign released returns for 2010 and estimated 2011 data earlier this year.
The Obama campaign is pressuring Romney to release returns from when he was the head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, hoping there will be some room for embarrassment held within those filings. Romney is known to have a Swiss bank account and at one stage set up a corporation in Bermuda. Both of those moves are usually associated with avoiding tax if not downright evading them. Romney has so far failed to release those returns and today’s move by the White House, though an annual release, was built up in previous days to add pressure to calls for Romney’s figures to be released. Campaign season is upon us and moves like this are bound to be a weekly treat for the months of the future as we head into an election.
Obama Tax Return: Document