- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 16, 2009

President Obama made less money the year he was elected president than he did the previous year because of smaller income from sales of his two books, according to tax returns released by the White House late Wednesday.

Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama reported a taxable income in 2008 of $2,656,902, paying $855,323 in federal taxes and $77,883 in their home state of Illinois.

The Obamas paid a tax rate of 32 percent, which is below the 35 percent top tax rate for incomes above $357,700.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said the Obamas’ rate was lower because of deductions for their mortgage payments and donations to charity.

The president’s two best-selling books, “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope”, brought him $2.6 million, compared with $3.9 million in profits the previous year.

For 2007, the Obamas reported a significantly larger taxable income of $4,139,965.

They also contributed less to charity in 2008 than they did in 2007, giving away $172,050 of their own money compared with $240,370 the previous year.

The two biggest recipients of the Obamas’ giving were the United Negro College Fund and CARE, a nonprofit that targets global poverty.

Mr. Obama did not give any money to his former church, Trinity United Church of Christ, after donating $26,270 in 2007. He and the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., had a falling-out after incendiary sermons by the pastor surfaced during the presidential campaign.

The Obamas also paid $47,488 in tuition for their two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, to attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama made around $200,000 per year for several years before 2005, when their income jumped to $1,655,106 on the back of book sales after Mr. Obama’s breakout speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, also released their tax returns, reporting $269,256 in total income, with $253,866 of that being taxable.

The Bidens paid $46,952 in federal income taxes and $11,164 in Delaware state income taxes.

They also donated $1,885 to charity, which is about 1 percent of their income after taxes of $183,315.

The vice president’s office defended the amount of charitable giving in a statement.

“The charitable donations claimed by the Bidens on their tax returns are not the sum of their annual contributions to charity,” the statement said. “They donate to their church, and they contribute to their favorite causes with their time, as well as their checkbooks.”

The Obamas gave about 6.5 percent of their taxable income to charity last year. Their giving in the years before the success of Mr. Obama’s two books amounted to about 1 percent of their income.

• Jon Ward can be reached at jward@washingtontimes.com.

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