NYR iOS app Android app More

Tax Day Showed Obama's Book Sales Bolstered His $5.5 Million Income

CHARLES BABINGTON   04/15/10 05:00 PM ET   AP

Audacity Of Hope

WASHINGTON — Thanks to revived book sales after he became president, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, made $5.5 million last year. They paid about one-third of it in federal income taxes.

The Obamas gave $329,100 to charities in 2009. The president, who released his tax returns Thursday, also donated his entire $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize award to 10 charitable groups. He never received the $1.4 million, and it was not included in his 2009 income.

Obama, a former law school instructor and U.S. senator, became a millionaire a few years ago through sales of his 1995 memoir "Dreams From My Father" and his 2006 political book, "The Audacity of Hope." He earned about $4 million in royalties in 2007, the year he launched his presidential campaign.

Sales included his audio versions of the books, for which Obama won two Grammy awards in the spoken-word category.

Sales dropped somewhat in 2008, the year he was elected president, although his books still netted him about $2.5 million.

Obama's January inauguration as the nation's first black president seemed to revive interest in his books. Royalties in 2009 more than doubled the previous year's amount.

Obama is paid $400,000 a year as president, although he received $374,460 last year because he took office on Jan. 20.

The Obamas paid nearly $1.8 million in federal income tax last year, and $163,303 in Illinois income tax. Among their charitable gifts were $50,000 each to CARE and the United Negro College Fund.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, had far more modest earnings. They reported an adjusted gross income of $333,182 for 2009. They paid $71,147 in federal income taxes, $12,420 in Delaware income taxes and $1,477 in Virginia income taxes, where Jill Biden works as a college professor.

The Bidens gave $4,820 to charity, in cash and in-kind donations.

The Obamas claimed $514,819 in federal itemized deductions. They included the state income taxes, the $329,100 for charity, $52,195 in home mortgage interest payments, and $22,456 in real estate taxes.

Of their taxable income of $4,980,858, everything above $372,950 was taxed at the top marginal rate of 35 percent. Obama wants to increase the two highest marginal rates, restoring the top rate of 39.6 percent that was in effect under former President Bill Clinton.

Had those rates been in effect last year, the Obamas' federal income tax bill would have increased by more than $200,000.

The president reported paying $471,022 in commissions and fees for his book sales, mainly to his agents and promoters, the White House said. Otherwise he reported fairly modest offsets to his $5 million in book profits: $15,722 in legal and professional fees, and $866 in office expenses.

The Obamas reported selling 9,472 shares in the Bank of Hawaii, for a loss of $125,879. They sold the shares for $355,029, but they reportedly were worth $480,908 when the family inherited them more than a year earlier.

The Bidens' largest itemized deduction was $30,349 for home mortgage interest payments. They reported relatively modest interest income, including $12 from the U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union.

____

Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

____

The Obamas' and Bidens' tax returns: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/04/15/president-obama-and-vice-president-biden-s-tax-returns

FOLLOW HUFFPOST BOOKS

Filed by Amy Hertz  |