- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

After Sen. Barack Obama’s income skyrocketed from about $207,000 in 2004 to nearly $1.7 million in 2005 thanks to book deals, he and his wife briskly increased their charitable giving.

In 2005 and 2006, the couple donated $137,622 to charities, including $27,500 to the Trinity United Church of Christ, which has been in the headlines as a result of the recent furor over now-retired pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sermons about racism in America.

Before then, the couple contributed less than 1 percent of their income to charity, which the TaxProf Blog noted was “well short of the biblical 10 percent tithe for all seven years.”

After the Democratic presidential hopeful’s campaign posted the 103 pages that comprise seven years of returns — including schedules — on the Internet, Obama aides said it was an exercise in transparency that his rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton should imitate.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mrs. Clinton should release full schedules of her tax returns, especially since she loaned herself $5 million during the presidential primary season. He questioned former President Bill Clinton’s ties to supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and demanded the Clintons release details about their tax rate, stock dividends and income.

“Senator Clinton recently claimed that she’s ‘the most transparent figure in public life,’ yet she’s dragging her feet in releasing something as basic as her annual tax returns,” Mr. Gibbs said, adding, she “can’t claim to be vetted until she allows the public the opportunity to see her finances — particularly with respect to any investment in tax shelters.”

He mocked her campaign’s promise to release her tax returns for this year a few days before the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, saying that was not enough time for donors to review the details.

Mrs. Clinton, campaigning yesterday in Pennsylvania, said she hopes to release her returns “within the next week.”

She also called into question Mr. Obama’s records from his time in the Illinois state Senate. He has previously said he did not keep most of them since there was no budget for an archivist.

Mr. Obama’s documents show that from 2000 to 2004, the Obamas earned $1.2 million and contributed $10,770 to charity during that period. His campaign noted, as Mr. Obama often talks about on the stump, that they were aiming to pay off student loans and raise two young children.

But after Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, profited from lucrative book deals for the re-release of his 1995 autobiography “Dreams from My Father” and his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope,” they upped their charitable giving.

The couple donated $5,000 to a dance theater where Mrs. Obama served as a board member and $31,000 over the two years to a anti-poverty nonprofit called CARE.

In 2005, their income was more than $1.67 million, and they contributed 4.7 percent of it to charity. In 2006, their income was $991,296 and they donated 6.1 percent to charity.

In 2005, the Obamas owed $430,867 in taxes. The next year, they made quarterly estimated tax payments and overpaid by $40,856, which was applied to the next year’s estimated payments.

Bloggers examining the returns criticized Mrs. Obama’s earnings of $51,200 from Wal-Mart supplier TreeHouse Foods when she served on the board in 2005 and 2006. She resigned in 2007.

The Obama tax returns can be viewed at https://obama.3cdn.net/b689982572ef6e7ad4_mlbzaoxb2.pdf

Jerry Seper contributed to this report.

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