(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
As the April 16 deadline approaches for Americans to file their 2011 tax returns, President and Mrs. Obama have released their tax bill showing they paid 20.5 percent in taxes on an adjusted gross income of $789,674. But of the $172,130 they donated to charity, only $1,000 went directly to a church.
As president, Obama earned an annual salary of $400,000 last year, with the remainder of his income coming from book sales. In 2009, his first year in office, Obama reported an income of $5.5 million and $1.7 million in 2010, with declining book sales.
Since the Obamas chose to overpay, they were due a refund of $24,515 but elected to apply it to next year's taxes.
The $172,130 the Obamas donated to charity amounts to 21.8 percent of their income. Of that amount $1,000 was given to St. John's Church in Washington.
In comparison, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann had an income of $21.7 million in 2010 and they gave about $3 million, or 14 percent of his income to charity – most of it to his church.
The largest charitable recipient from the Obama household was a $117,000 gift to Fischer House Foundation, which provides lodging to relatives of military servicemen and women.
Other gifts included $5,000 to the United Negro College Fund, $3,000 to the National Aids Fund, $500 to Catholic Relief Services, $1,000 to Calvary Women's Shelter and $5,000 to Habitat for Humanity.
As for his investments, the vast majority of them were in U.S. Treasuries, which according to Steven Bankler, an accountant in San Antonio, Texas, show the Obamas are not getting good financial advice since the couple is probably paying interest on their Chicago home at a higher rate than he is earning.
Bankler also questioned Obama's decision to report his book earnings as a business income as opposed to reporting the income as royalties.
"He manages his money pathetically," Bankler told The Washington Post. "He's got it backwards. This is a man that's trying to tell us how to make decisions on managing our money."
However, as Obama has been crisscrossing the country talking about tax equity and suggesting millionaires "pay their fair share," he is touting what is now known as the "Buffett Rule."
Named after the Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett, the rule would suggest that millionaires and business owners pay a higher percentage than those whom they employ. Buffett likes to use the example that he pays a higher rate than his secretary.
Romney and his wife have not filed their 2011 tax return yet but plan to do so soon. "Gov. Romney has already released his 2010 return and an estimate of his 2011 income and taxes. He will release his full 2011 return when it is filed," said Andrea Saul, Romney's spokesperson in an email.