March 25, 2008
Obama Releases 2000-2006 Tax Returns
Barack Obama today released his 2000-2006 tax returns:
Here is a summary of the figures:
What is surprising, given the recent controversy over Obama's membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ, is how little the Obamas apparently gave to charity -- well short of the biblical 10% tithe for all seven years. In two of the years, the Obamas gave far less than 1% of their income to charity; in three of the years, they gave around 1% of their income to charity. Only in the last two years have they given substantially more as their income skyrocketed -- 4.7% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2006. (Of course, it is possible that the Obamas may have made gifts to other worthy causes that were not deductible for federal income tax purposes.)
- Bloomberg News: Obamas Gave Less Than 1 Percent of 2000-2004 Income to Charity, by Ryan J. Donmoyer & Julianna Goldman
- CNN: Obama Releases Tax Returns, Challenges Clinton to Follow Suit
- Fox News: Obamas Open Tax Returns, Earned Nearly $1M in 2006
- The Hill: Obama Posts Tax Returns, Urges Clinton to Do Same, by Sam Youngman
- The Huffington Post: Obama Posts Six Years Of Tax Returns
- L.A. Times: Obama Campaign Posts His Tax Returns on Web, by Michael Muskal
- MSNBC: Obama Releases Tax Returns to 2000, by Domenico Montanaro
- New York Sun: Obamas Check "Yes" and then "No" on Public Financing, by Russell Berman
- Reuters: Obama Releases Tax Returns, Says Clinton Should Too
- Wall Street Journal: Obama Releases Seven Years of Tax Filings, by Susan Davis
- Washington Post: Obama, Releasing Returns, Presses Clinton on Taxes, by Matthew Mosk & Alec MacGillis
Update #2: From Donklephant::
Hillary spokesperson Phil Singer blasted out an email at 11:23 a.m. insisting that Obama release his tax returns for back years,
Exactly two minutes later, at 11:25 a.m., Obama spokesperson Tommy Vietor emailed out word that Obama had posted his tax returns for 2000-2006 on his campaign web site.
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Looking at 2007 return: The Congressional Black Caucus is a charity? A club for black members of congress is a charity? That's interesting
Posted by: ech | Mar 25, 2008 1:05:39 PM
Wow, what a well-paying gig this Senator stuff is.
Posted by: Mr. Bingley | Mar 25, 2008 1:11:47 PM
In Jewish law, at least, the biblical 10% is on after-tax income.
Incidentally, since I'm not a campaign buff -- why has their joint income skyrocketed so in the last couple of years?!?
Posted by: JSinger | Mar 25, 2008 1:16:44 PM
Is this standard procedure? Have all the candidates done this? If so, why? And if not, why Obama?
Posted by: Will | Mar 25, 2008 1:16:47 PM
In the United States charitable giving is thought to be that which shows up on your income tax return, but that's a fallacy. In the United States for a donation to be tax deductible it must be made to an IRS licensed charity i.e. a 501(c)3 corporation. If you pay your grandmother's rent, that's not charity. If you pay your widowed neice's children's college tuition, that's not charity. If you help your immigrant gardner with his travel costs to attend his father's funeral, that's not charity. People can and do many good works that would qualify as the biblical tithe without going anywhere near a 501(c)3 corporation.
The moral here, if there is one, that those who release their tax returns had better, by God, only be donating to IRS licensed corporations because otherwise it doesn't count.
Posted by: oregonjon | Mar 25, 2008 1:28:45 PM
I don't think one can assume that what someone puts on their tax forms is the sum total of their actual charitable contributions for the year. I generally deduct what I give in the envelope, but do not deduct many other gifts I give to the church and various other charities. It's not always worth it to spend the year detailing each gift.
Perhaps he will say that he was withholding giving to try to force Pastor Wright to change his ways. :)
Posted by: Dan | Mar 25, 2008 1:29:52 PM
Looking at the AGI jump after ascension to the legislature brings up a curious point. I wonder if someone did a meta-analysis of this for all 100 senators, would they find a similar jump? I've always thought it interesting how "public servants" become millionaires overnight when they're given control of the country's purse.
Crooks, the whole lot of them.
Posted by: chris | Mar 25, 2008 1:31:15 PM
recent studies show conservatives are more generous with their money than liberals. In BHO's case, far, far, more. What an tight wad; he'd have been better off not claiming anything.
Posted by: quasimodo | Mar 25, 2008 1:34:42 PM
Studies repeatedly show that conservatives give a far larger percentage of their income to charity than do leftists. It's just a fact, and one folks should remember when they hear leftists talk.
Posted by: PrestoPundit | Mar 25, 2008 1:37:46 PM
Bush's 06 returns show 10.2% in charitable gifts ($78,100 on $765,801 AGI). Sounds like a tithe to me.
Posted by: Eric Hall | Mar 25, 2008 1:41:05 PM
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream --- income from his book sales?
Posted by: jp | Mar 25, 2008 1:41:11 PM
Educated guesses on both of these: Joint income likely skyrocketed from 2 best-selling books. Michelle Obama has likely earned more actual salary than Barack in recent years.
Posted by: dms | Mar 25, 2008 1:49:28 PM
The Congressional Black Caucus is tax-deductible?
Posted by: Mikey | Mar 25, 2008 1:49:52 PM
JSinger, I'm pretty sure we're looking at both book profits and Michelle's raise at the hospital which was in the news a couple of weeks ago.
Posted by: TBradshaw | Mar 25, 2008 1:51:01 PM
Skyrocketed because of his book deal, speaking fees now that he's famous, etc.
Posted by: justsomeeater | Mar 25, 2008 1:53:32 PM
Barack has published a book, which is the source of a significant part of his income from the past several years.
Posted by: lawhawk | Mar 25, 2008 1:54:40 PM
What I find remarkable is how our tax laws allow these millionaires to claim a child care tax deduction.
Why would our tax laws allow millionaires to get this tax break?
Posted by: justsomeeater | Mar 25, 2008 1:54:57 PM
Obama wrote a couple of best-selling books during his rise to power. My guess is that his 2007 return is going to show even more income because interest increases in rough proportion to campaign tempo.
His wife's salary roughly doubled in 2006, possibly as a result of Barack's efforts on behalf of her employer, although she and he both deny that was the reason. In any event, the doubling is as clear as paper.
It's interesting to note that his income as Senator is about 15% of his book income and an almost negligible percentage of the total income of him and his wife. So being a Senator per se doesn't amount to much, but publishing highly successful books is obviously a nice way of making a living, and it's unlikely he could have gotten the books this popular without being Senator.
If i were him I would certainly pay down my mortgage on that expensive house, because his extremely high income earning years won't last too much longer. He will either become President or slip back into obscurity, and neither President nor obscurity are likely to make him much money compared to what he has now.
He might even take a pay cut as President since it seems unlikely his wife will continue working, and the total of his and his wife's salary is actually greater than his Presidential salary.
Of course then his child care expenses will probably be folded somewhere in the Federal budget.
Posted by: David H Dennis | Mar 25, 2008 1:59:53 PM
Of course converatives give more. Conservatives are nicer, more compassionate people than leftists (please NEVER call them 'liberals').
Then again, conservatives are more productive than leftists.
That is why, left-wing hate towards right-wing people is always heavily laden with jealousy, and hence the obsession with taxing them. Right-wing people, however, have no such jealousy vs, leftists (why would they, based on the facts above)?
Posted by: GK | Mar 25, 2008 2:02:15 PM
"He will either become President or slip back into obscurity, and neither President nor obscurity are likely to make him much money compared to what he has now."
I don't think so. Al Gore became a centimillionaire, soon to be a billionaire, after Jan '01 simply by exploiting the sympathy that Bush-haters have for him. Obama will do the same. Obama will earn $30,000 a pop for speeches, which he will make for decades to come.
Posted by: GK | Mar 25, 2008 2:06:36 PM
Because when there's a tax break, everyone who qualifies gets to claim it. Got kids? Congratulations, here's your deduction.
Americans generally aren't into shafting rich people for being rich because we all hope to be rich someday.
Posted by: rosignol | Mar 25, 2008 2:07:34 PM
Yeah, GK, one thing that your comment makes crystal clear is that left-wing people really hate right-wing people, and spend lots of time and effort thinking up bad things about right-wing people.
Posted by: neil | Mar 25, 2008 2:15:54 PM
Jeepers. I gave more than he did from 2000-2004 and I don't make a third of what he did at the time.
Posted by: Doug Stewart | Mar 25, 2008 2:34:39 PM
The tax return itself answers the question of where the jump came from: business income as an author. In 2006, the Obamas earned about $400K in wages. The rest comes from business income as a best-selling author.
Posted by: ADB | Mar 25, 2008 2:38:52 PM
"Yeah, GK, one thing that your comment makes crystal clear is that left-wing people really hate right-wing people, and spend lots of time and effort thinking up bad things about right-wing people."
Indeed, it is a well-known fact. Just look at how negative the left-wing blogs are.
It is predictable that the lesser group in income, happiness, AND physical appearance would behave that way.
Posted by: GK | Mar 25, 2008 2:48:41 PM
I'm glad you acknowledged "it is possible that the Obamas may have made gifts to other worthy causes that were not deductible for federal income tax purposes.)"
Also, keep in mind that some people don't seek deductions for every penny donated. I don't take deductions at all for charitable donations I make. That's because I don't give to get something back. However, I don't pass judgment on people who do. That's their business.
Posted by: Munir Umrani | Mar 25, 2008 2:56:39 PM
I don't understand how his Real Estate taxes on Schedule A fluctuated so much from one year to the next. One year (2004 or 2005) reports nothing for real estate taxes.
Can someone help me with this one?
Posted by: Chicago Real Estate Taxes | Mar 25, 2008 3:02:58 PM
I guess they couldn't give more to charity because they were still paying off their student loans.
Posted by: JaimeRoberto | Mar 25, 2008 3:31:50 PM
Is it possible that those years that they gave so little they were being hit by the alternative minimum tax, and therefore saw no reason to figure out how much they were giving to charity?
Or, maybe since they were taking their ivy league educations and working way beneath their earning potentials for the public good, they didn't make charitable giving a priorty.
Posted by: Kerry | Mar 25, 2008 3:32:31 PM
Obama, stop crying, how many times did Hillary tell you after April 15th, just sit back and wait.
Posted by: mary | Mar 25, 2008 3:35:25 PM
As I do the taxes in my household, the big thing that leaps out at me is the dearth of Schedule B filings. Perhaps they have their nest-egg savings in munis, but perhaps 2000-2004 the Obamas were spending every dime they made, explaining Michelle Obama's complaint about making ends meet. If they gave below average amounts for their income to charity, perhaps they didn't have any spare money to give.
You would think someone in, what is it, the top 1 or 2 percent of AGI could put some money aside in interest-bearing savings, but it is easy to spend every dollar that you make up to very high income levels if you are not frugal and watch expenses.
I say the absence of Schedule B filings says volumes about who they are, the demands on their spending given their public roles, perhaps their idea of who is rich and who is poor in America. It is just a little scary that someone in public life in the top 1-2 percent of household AGI considered themselves to be poor.
Posted by: Paul Milenkovic | Mar 25, 2008 3:37:32 PM
Unsurprising, really. I venture to guess that many (if not most) of the 100 US senators earn over 1 million a year. The difference is that Obama is making that by writing book, rather than family inheritance or shady "consultancy" contracts.
Regarding donations: for a young person with 2 children to support it seems enough. Also, one often drops cash anonymously in the church collection box, without expecting tax returns (or publicity) for it.
Posted by: Cool head | Mar 25, 2008 3:43:56 PM
Why no AMT??????? My taxes where almost identical to Mr. O'bama's for the 200-2002 tax years and I paid $4-5,000 in AMT every year.
Posted by: jdbluegrass | Mar 25, 2008 3:43:58 PM
When is McCain going to release his tax returns?
Posted by: jaymeister | Mar 25, 2008 3:45:01 PM
Funny how all of you sour souls will be crushed in Nov.
You should do some soul searching and open your eves to the future.
Don't waste time trying to find something wrong. Look for what is right!
You are missing the point....he released them for you to see.
Bad or good, he did it! If you think that is nothing, then put yours up on display for all America to see.
Posted by: D. Williams | Mar 25, 2008 4:01:00 PM
Giving under the Biblical cloak of "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth when thou givest alms. ..." many religious people do not list chartable gifts at all. Nor do we count collection plates in church, the cash to the Salvation Army ladies and so on. Don't be too quick to judge this guy on this subject.
Posted by: Howard Veit | Mar 25, 2008 4:01:16 PM
Might be no mystery...I pay two years of property tax in a given year and itemize in that year, while taking the standard deduction in the next.
Posted by: George | Mar 25, 2008 4:04:09 PM
Here's the 2000-2006 Obama numbers compared with the Bush charity numbers for the same period:
Posted by: Andy | Mar 25, 2008 4:05:14 PM
GK wrote: "Also, keep in mind that some people don't seek deductions for every penny donated. I don't take deductions at all for charitable donations I make. That's because I don't give to get something back."
When you claim a deduction on something you donated, you're not "asking for something back." You're simply asking for a third party (the government) not to tax you on income you passed along to a charity. If you don't claim an eligible deduction on a charitable contribution, you're actually making two charitible contributions: one to the 501(c)3 of your choice, and the other to Uncle Sam. If you really like the government, agree with all of its policies, and unequivocally support the ways it spends your money, I suppose donating extra to Uncle Sam each year would be understandable.
"That's their business."
And it would be bad personal business, if your assumption of Obama choosing not to claim eligible deductions is true. Since the candidates are asking us to elect to them manage an entire country, a critical review of how they managed their personal finances is not unreasonable.
Posted by: 00stephen | Mar 25, 2008 4:07:50 PM
That was not GK who wrote that.
Posted by: GK | Mar 25, 2008 4:21:30 PM
IMHO this is all private material that I really have no interest in. I don't care about the candidates' tax returns. If they are being bribed, it won't show up in their taxes anyway.
Posted by: Paul | Mar 25, 2008 4:37:24 PM
2000 to 2004: SAVING UP TO BUY THAT BIG HOUSE!
Posted by: Kevin | Mar 25, 2008 5:00:43 PM
Cool Head: 4-5k? try 20+
Someone else please check (the IRS site has historical forms 6251), but a ballpark run-through for AMT in 2005 and 2006 is illuminating. 2005 is in the clear ($463,722 Tentative Minimum Tax versus $513,456 regular tax). 2006, however, looks like a major foulup. Regular tax is 262,687, but Tentative Minimum Tax comes to $284,350.
The exact numbers might differ some, but it would appear there's $21,663 in unpaid AMT for 2006.
Have at it, Hillaryites...
Posted by: Form6251 | Mar 25, 2008 5:33:17 PM
This proves my theory perfectly! I knew I was right about this!
Posted by: telecom | Mar 25, 2008 5:37:20 PM
What should really be investigated is his wife's salary? From the returns, it looks like it really jumps when he becomes a US Senator. She was only making in the low 100s before and then it jumps to the 200s and 300s after he became a US Senator. Coincidence?
Posted by: anon | Mar 25, 2008 5:51:35 PM
Apparently no gifts to Princeton. None to Harvard. Nothing to Columbia. Or Punahou. All those great schools that provided their outstanding educations didn't merit some contributions?
This is in keeping with the entire generation. The percentage contribution levels of graduates of the "elite" schools for the past 20 years or so is far less than in the past.
Memo to America: The Obamas are Big Time Yuppies.
Posted by: David | Mar 25, 2008 5:52:32 PM
Look, I'm not voting for Obama, but let's be reasonable here. It's not that damning that he didn't give much money to charity when he was only making $200,000. He had to maintain two homes--one in Chicago, and one in DC. Those are expensive markets, and he was probably hurting for cash. It's not like he's a trust fund kid.
Also, keep in mind that (1) when he started making more money, his charitable contributions went up, and (2) he already devoted his life to public service. We shouldn't pay politicians crap AND expect for them to donate some of that pay back to charities.
Posted by: kjhkjh | Mar 25, 2008 6:06:43 PM
Who cares? This is such meaningless information.
Keep watching the ball guys...don't pay attention to what's really going on.
I hate how petty and twisted politics have become, go back to your caves.
Posted by: Phil | Mar 25, 2008 6:38:52 PM
evading 20 grand in taxes isn't meaningless to most folk.
Posted by: Form6251 | Mar 25, 2008 10:59:38 PM
Yes...he is just like us. Not! I work my but off and make 74K a year. Yet he pretends that he knows how hard it is for Americans to make it. Not on those salaries. My 74k is enough to pay my bills, period. If he wanted to really make it easier then about 6K of yearly tax relief would make life a lot easier. Lower our taxes!
Posted by: Editor | Mar 26, 2008 7:37:24 AM
PCaron, your comment about the Obama's not making significant charitable donations until he decided to run for President makes you sound like a bitter supporter of either Hilary or McCain. The Obamas were paying off student loans until 2004 and trying to support 2 kids in the expensive City of Chicago for crying out loud. Their discretionary income was next to nothing. If you are going to make provocative statements like that, know the facts.
Posted by: DG | Mar 26, 2008 8:46:10 AM
Typical liberal... has no problem raising taxes on the "wealthy" (e.g. any family earning $250k+) to provide free health care, educational aid, tax rebates, etc. to the "most needy" but from his own pocket contributes a di minimis sum.
Posted by: an observer | Mar 26, 2008 9:12:06 AM
Amazing how many public servants reach the million dollar mark. And he's only been a senator for three years....just one if you count the time he's been running for president. Where can the average person find a job that pays full salary and benefits while you look for another job?
Posted by: PKahnPie | Mar 26, 2008 10:53:39 AM
Less than 1% charitable donations -- and when he does pry open his wallet it's a donation to that oh-so-need charity, the Congressional Black Caucus. Does this guy have a conscience?
Posted by: Brad Gates | Mar 26, 2008 1:25:29 PM
I realize that you usually get no comments. I dropped in because I saw 54 and had to see what was going on. That said, consider a feature that assigns a number for ease of reference.
I merely comment to offer some responses to questions asked.
To J Singer: I echo TBradshaw and others, the income of the Obamas soared with (1) the royalties from his two books, (2) his speaking fees, and (3) her near-double increase in salary upon his election to the Senate--hmmm.
Also JSinger, I mean this in a good-natured jest, but a 10% tithe on after-tax income forces a well-intentioned taxpayer to make an incredibly nasty interrelated calculation. I'm not sure most taxpayers remember enough of the "simultaneous equations" unit of their high school Algebra II classes to make that calculation.
Hoping God has a sense of humor, I wonder if He allows a safe-harbor rule of 10% of the previous year's taxable income along the lines of the underpayment penalty safe-harbor of 100% of the previous year's tax liability. Even so, I'm not sure if you get to reduce that number by the bottom line tax liability for that year and, I suppose, you need to add back the charitable deduction that you received for that year. How do we factor in the itemized deduction phase-outs? What if there's a charitable contribution carryover? What if the taxpayer is subject to AMT in one year? Is there a book of the Bible that covers these complexities? Matthew was a tax collector. Did he leave behind a revenue procedure to address these matters? Sorry, again, I couldn't resist. I already looking over my shoulder for lightning bolts.
To Mikey: you asked about the deductibility of contributions to the "Congressional Black Caucus," and I had the same question. I checked the online version of IRS Publication 78, and I found a 50%-type organization in Washington DC called "Congressional Black Caucus Foundation." I assume that's it. I leave it to some investigative reporter to find any dirt there--though it smells pretty political (and non-deductible) to me.
Someone asked about the increase in the real estate taxes: they bought a big new home about that time. That event is normally not reflected on a tax return.
Someone asked about the increase in his wife's salary. For that discussion, I suggest that you click on the link to the entries that Prof. Caron provides to the Volokh Conspiracy. The posts and comments are eye-opening.
Posted by: SAM | Mar 26, 2008 3:24:15 PM
Form6251's AMT calculations for 2006 make sense to me.
It looks like over $20K in unpaid AMT taxes. All of you can quibble about charitable giving, etc.; that is the Obama family's choice.
But it appears that Obama's accountant seriously fouled up by not doing the AMT calculations in 2006.
Posted by: AMT? | Mar 26, 2008 5:32:35 PM
The New York Times article, Obamas’ Tax Returns Show Donation Spike, states that:
"The 2006 return also show a charitable deduction for a $13,000 donation to the Congressional Black Caucus. It is illegal to deduct political contributions as charitable contributions. The campaign said Mr. Obama had filed an amended return to eliminate that item as a deduction."
Isn't he a lawyer, isn't he supposed to be the preeminent law student? How is it that he turns out to be so ignorant and so incompetent that he takes an illegal tax deduction right as he is running for President? How could he not understand enough of the law, or of the government, or of U.S. history, to not make such a mistake?
Obama is not fit to be President. He is totally inexperienced and is just going to try to rely on advisors with no vision of his own like George W. Bush has done. This will not straighten the mess we are in, and will only hurt the country more. Please vote for someone who is smart, even brilliant, as the NYT editorial board described Hillary Clinton.
She has been working on solutions to the problems that affect hardworking Americans all her adult life. I am confident that she understands tax law and will work hard to make it fairer for the average tax payer.
Posted by: LE | Mar 26, 2008 6:27:38 PM
No alternative minimum tax (6251) was paid???????????????Why not. Now that is magic
Posted by: mary | Mar 26, 2008 6:50:58 PM
I suffer with dial-up, so this may be my problem. That said, the link to the 2005 seems to be bad. I can download the returns for the other years.
Posted by: SAM | Mar 26, 2008 7:14:29 PM
The New York Times is stating that Prof. Caron associates the increase in charitable giving, with Sen. Obama's campaign for the Presidency. However, in this post, he actually limits his analysis to the obvious correlation between the higher earnings, largely from Sen. Obama's book sales, and higher rates of charitable giving.
While it makes sense to say that the more you make, the more you can afford to give in charity, any other assumption (i.e. Obama is giving to 'look good' as he runs for the office of president) is founded on pure speculation. While there may be a correlation to support this argument, there is no causality, at least none reflected in this data.
Such leaps in causal relationships can lead to other, equally valid, yet wildly ridiculous assertions. For example: Obama is giving more money, in order to earn more money, because as he gave more, so too did he receive more! (This assertion actually fits biblical scripture)
Be careful not to associate a correlation with causality.
Posted by: Michael Barnes | Mar 26, 2008 8:30:45 PM
I think we are to give 10% to God's work and everything above that is good. I would be embarassed to make that much money & not give anymore than that. I know people on social security who give 10% of their little check.
Posted by: Jan | Mar 27, 2008 6:33:48 PM
Barack Obama's Tax Returns
Let’s really look at Mr. Obama's tax returns. First of all, the returns for 2006 and 2005 look too good to be true. I question whether or not Mr. Obama amended these returns and recreated the original returns to reflect the amended ones filed on Form 1040X.
The reason I pose this question is that it seems odd that Mr. Obama did not incur any expenses relating to his business as an author (other than legal fees and commissions). Does he mean to tell us that he incurred no additional expenses such as office supplies, travel, and telephone? Why would he leave these expenses off his tax return when in fact they would certainly be legitimate deductions? The only reason I can think of, other than attempting to make the public see that he is extremely patriotic, is that he used the facilities at the senate for his own personal use in writing his book.
Also, why didn’t Mr. Obama deduct any property taxes on his home in 2005? He must have incurred them because he paid over $60,000 in mortgage interest.
Blog posted on Barack Obama’s Campaign page 3/27/08
Posted by: Tom CPA | Mar 27, 2008 10:17:08 PM
He's not much of a liberal.....he wants all the rich conservatives to give money to help the poor....what about leading by example!?? He actually makes my ill...
Posted by: Patty | Apr 1, 2008 10:54:13 PM
Where is Obama's 2007 return? Especially as everyone is criticizing Clinton for not reporting her's (and they have filed an extension anyway).
Posted by: Matthew | Apr 4, 2008 5:33:53 PM
True charity is giving of one's own resources without expecting anything in return!
So Hillary's campaign released the Clintons' tax returns from 2000-2007 revealing that the Clintons earned more than $100 million in that time period and donated $10 million of that to charity. Good for them ... Sounds great on the face of it, however this $10 million in combined charitable contributions was to the Clintons' own foundation. Hmmm ... okay, but let's look a little closer.
During that time through 2006 this foundation dispersed just $2.5 million to such (one could argue, self-serving) causes as the Clinton Birthplace Foundation. Bill Clinton is the foundation's president, Hillary Clinton is the secretary/treasurer and Chelsea Clinton is a “director.” The 2006 tax forms for that foundation list a Gloria Clinton as CEO and Manager and show she was paid $252,500 for her work that year. So for every ten dollars dispersed by the foundation, one goes to Gloria Clinton, which is not a bad gig for Ms. Clinton, but raises questions about ulterior motives.
Indeed, this sounds like a “trickle-down” method of charitable giving, where the "givers" just might get back more through tax deductions, personal monuments and favors than they actually gave.
Now let's jump to Barack Obama, who is prone to paraphrasing Cain by asserting "We are our brothers' keeper". Though this sounds noble, if applied at a personal level, the facts seem to indicate that these are just more empty words and platitudes about giving and being charitable, since the Obamas don't seem to really practice what they preach.
As we can see from the evidence presented here, in the years preceding his seeking high-profile national office, Obama vied for fellow Democrat Al Gore's infamous honor of giving less than half of one percent to charity.
Even the Obamas' 2006 return shows a charitable deduction for a self-serving $13,000 donation to the Congressional Black Caucus (included in the number shown below). Unfortunately, since it's is illegal to deduct political contributions as charitable contributions, the Obamas have had to file an amended return to eliminate that item as a deduction.
Even at 4% to 6% of these objectively high incomes, the Obamas' charitable contributions are fairly pathetic and especially questionable since even these only began after running for high-profile political office and no effort appears to have been made to make up for past “miserliness”. All this may remind you of a different set of Bible verses than those from Genesis chapter 4 paraphrased by Obama:
1 - 4
When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."
Posted by: TruthSeekerfor2008 | Apr 5, 2008 8:49:18 PM
I blog on the returns at
I make one point mentioned by one commentor above: where is their capital income? It must be unusual for a couple earning $250,000/year not to have any to speak of. But maybe it is tax-sheltered somehow.
A second point is that bank account interest income is unreported for three of the years. Sloppy. The amount is trivial, unlike the possibly ignored Alt. Min. Tax. But although naivete can explain lack of AMT, remembering that you have interest income is not all that hard.
Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 11, 2008 6:55:02 AM
DID OBAMA TAKE OFF THE DEDUCTABLE FROM WHAT HE GAVE TO LARRY SINCLAIR? ALL THE PEOPLE THAT THINK HE IS GREAT OUGHT TO ASK HIM ABOUT LARRY SINCLAIR AND WHAT HE DID FOR HIM
Posted by: MARY JANE | May 11, 2008 4:15:30 PM
Does anyone understand what Obama is doing with his money?
I'm hearing that he doesn't show much or any interest, dividend, or capital gains income. How could this be with their income and two small children?
Posted by: HD Wood | Jul 25, 2008 8:37:50 PM
The most common form of tax relief is known as withholding the tax, or personal tax allowance, which is a percentage of the taxpayer's salary withheld by the company that employs them. This amount is collected once or twice a month throughout the year and is used to pay off the employee's income tax at tax time, either fully or partially.
Posted by: deepak taxes relief | Jul 28, 2008 2:50:41 AM
"What is surprising, given the recent controversy over Obama's membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ, is how little the Obamas apparently gave to charity"--- Are you kidding me Taxprof. They gave $22,500 to the Trinity church in 2006. The only thing surprising is that you didn't dig deeper into the return to report it. One word of advice.....Never go to an accountant who is a liberal or a democrat.
Posted by: William S | Aug 30, 2008 12:53:12 AM
We always donate 10% of our incomes as God requests. (Our greedy government wants a larger portion than that!) In addition, we donate our time and talents to help others. The candidates should be ashamed to flaunt God and then give so little to His work.
Posted by: P.H. | Sep 21, 2008 1:52:37 PM
I just heard Obama in an interview say that before his book 5 years ago he was struggling to keep his 3 bedroom condo like other middle class familes. What a joke, over 200K a year, you should not be struggling with anything dealing with money...
Posted by: Zigg | Oct 15, 2008 6:54:48 PM
I expected to see large donations to the Federal Government by Obama. After all, he says the rich have unfairly benefited from the Bush Tax Cuts; I would have thought he would have donated the amount he feels he unfairly got back to the government...
Posted by: Terry Kroemer | Oct 21, 2008 1:55:27 PM
Given the fact that he stated during one of the debates that he's willing to pay more I don't understand why he's taking deductions? If we willing to pay more why not pay more? I guess that comment was "Just Words"...
Posted by: Gary | Oct 27, 2008 9:36:30 AM
Editor, come on. It is not like he hasn't known what it was like to struggle. He has worked hard to get where he is and congrats on winning the presidency!
Posted by: Obama Fan | Nov 7, 2008 1:53:49 PM