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The Obamas' tax return: A glimpse into the President's financial life

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Yesterday, Americans partook in two annual rites of spring: grumbling about paying their taxes, and eagerly peering at the President's 1040 form. Each April, the president's tax returns give us an educational glimpse into the finances of our First Family, and this year -- despite the tendency of several of his cabinet nominees to find themselves accused of tax violations -- President Obama and his wife dutifully paid their taxes on time.

The Obamas' TY2007 returns reflected a gross income of $4.2 million, mostly from royalties on The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father. Both memoirs got a big bump from Obama's campaign as millions of Americans rushed to bookstores to learn more about the mysterious man who was still many months away from securing his party's nomination for the presidency.

Taxes in the News

    Nancy Lucke of Houston attends a tax day Tea Party at Jones Plaza Wednesday, April 15, 2009, in Houston. Thousands of protesters, some dressed like Revolutionary War soldiers and most waving signs with anti-tax slogans, gathered around the nation Wednesday for a series of rallies modeled after the original Boston Tea Party. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Melissa Phillip)

    AP

    People take part in a tax day protest in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, April 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    AP

    Hundreds of people from southern New Mexico line Main Street in front of Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces, N.M., to protest taxes Wednesday, April 15, 2009. They were there for the Las Cruces Tax Day TEA -- Taxed Enough Already -- Party, said organizer Ruth Seiler. (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Norm Dettlaff)

    AP

    Katie Mauldin, 52, traveled from Truth or Consequences, N.M., to gather with hundreds of others Wednesday, April 15, 2009, in front of Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces, N.M., for the Las Cruces Tax Day TEA -- Taxed Enough Already -- Party. "They're going to tax my kids and grandkids; (the federal government) needs to stop spending their inheritance," she said. (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Norm Dettlaff)

    AP

    Nancy Lucke of Houston attends a tax day Tea Party at Jones Plaza Wednesday, April 15, 2009, in Houston. Thousands of protesters, some dressed like Revolutionary War soldiers and most waving signs with anti-tax slogans, gathered around the nation Wednesday for a series of rallies modeled after the original Boston Tea Party. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Melissa Phillip)

    AP

    Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich approaches the platform to address the crowd during a Tax Day Tea Party Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at City Hall Park in New York. Protesters gathered at state Capitols and in neighborhoods and town squares across the country Wednesday to kick off a series of tax-day protests designed to echo the rebellion of the Boston Tea Party. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

    AP

    Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich looks at the audience before speaking during a Tax Day Tea Party Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at City Hall Park in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

    AP

    Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a Tax Day Tea Party Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at City Hall Park in New York. Protesters gathered at state Capitols and in neighborhoods and town squares across the country Wednesday to kick off a series of tax-day protests designed to echo the rebellion of the Boston Tea Party. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

    AP

    Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a Tax Day Tea Party Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at City Hall Park in New York. Protesters gathered at state Capitols and in neighborhoods and town squares across the country Wednesday to kick off a series of tax-day protests designed to echo the rebellion of the Boston Tea Party. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

    AP

    Bruce Cerrone, in front holding sign, of Alexandria, Va., attends a rally in Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    AP


In 2008, the Obamas made far less income. The two books raked in nearly $2.5 million in royalties, which bulk of their $2.7 million income. Barack Obama's paycheck from the U.S. Senate netted $139,204, and Michelle Obama earned $62,709 as an executive at the University of Chicago hospitals. The pair donated $172,050 to charities including CARE, the United Negro College Fund, and several churches -- excluding, notably, the Trinity United Church of Christ, led by the Obamas' once outspoken and now forsaken minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

The $855,323 in federal taxes that the Obamas paid amounts to more than four times their combined salaries, but represents 32% of their total income. Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife earned a combined $269,256, and sent $46,952 in to the feds.

As tea parties raged nationwide yesterday, it's reassuring to be reminded that tax laws apply to everybody regardless of income, prominence, public position, or bona fides as limousine liberals. The Obamas' tax returns reflect an open, honest attitude toward paying one's debt to society. Here's hoping that cabinet members -- past, present, and prospective -- will take notice.

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