Obama releases taxes, doesn't qualify for Buffett rule

Pete Souza/White House

President Obama earned $789,674 in 2011, the White House announced on Friday. However, with this income, he does not even qualify for the so-called Buffett Rule that he has promoted relentlessly and the Senate will take up on Monday.

The Buffett Rule calls for those making over $1 million a year to pay a minimum tax rate, named after billionaire Warren Buffett. The president did earn over $1 million in previous years--$1.7 million in 2010 and $5.5 million in 2009.

The president paid $162,074 in taxes with an effective federal income tax rate of 20.5 percent, according to the returns.

The release, four days before Tuesday’s tax deadline, capped a week in which the president repeatedly spoke about the obligation of the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. It also provided Obama’s campaign the opportunity to once again jab Republican Mitt Romney for his refusal to release more information on his tax-paying history.

The Obamas adjusted gross income was their lowest income since 2004 when he wrote his best-selling memoir, “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.” This was the first year since 2006 that the Obama family income dipped below $1 million. In 2010, his adjusted gross income was $1.7 million; in 2009, it was $5.5 million.

The White House also released the return filed by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill. They reported adjusted gross income of $379,035, paying $87,900 in federal tax for the year in addition to state taxes in Delaware and Virginia totaling $17,457.

Not surprisingly in an election year, the White House release of documents was followed almost immediately by a blast from the Obama reelection campaign demanding Romney make public much more than the 2010 tax return released by the campaign earlier and the 2011 return expected.

“On the eve of April 17th, Governor Romney has yet to provide tax returns from the period in which he made hundreds of millions as a corporate buyout specialist, or as governor of Massachusetts, the experience he says qualifies him to be president,” said campaign manager Jim Messina in a statement. He added, “Mitt Romney’s defiance of decades of precedent set by presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including his own father, begs the question – what does he have to hide?”

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul dismissed the Obama campaign demand. “It’s no surprise with the worst job creation record in modern history that President Obama would try to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows,” she said. Saul noted that Romney has released his 2010 return and said he will put out his full 2011 return “when it is filed.”

The Obama return showed that the president and his wife Michelle contributed $172,130 – about 22 percent of their income -- to 39 different charities. By far their biggest contribution -- $117,130 – went to the Fisher House Foundation, a Maryland-based foundation that provides free housing and help to wounded members of the military with at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center. The Obamas also reported $5,000 contributions to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, Habitat for Humanity and Sidwell Friends School.

As he has in previous years, Biden gave a much smaller percentage of his income to charity, reporting only $5,540 in contributions. The largest was $1,080 to the Northern Virginia Community College Alumni Scholarship Fund.

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