Tax Returns Reveal How Charitable Our Political Leaders Are... And The Results Will Surprise You

By: Jim Dossey, MS, MBA, JD

Tax returns are considered confidential information, even for our political leaders. However, Presidents and Presidential candidates have chosen to release their returns since the early 1970's. Analyzing these returns can yield some interesting results, such as how much each leader gives to charity. The results below may surprise you…

Person

Tax Year

AGI

Charitable Gifts

Percent

President Barack Obama

2012

$608,611

$150,034

24.65%

Vice President Joe Biden, Jr

2012

$385,072

$7,190

1.87%

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

2011

$13,696,951

$2,250,772

16.43%

VP Candidate Paul Ryan

2011

$323,416

$12,991

4.02%

Presidential Candidate John McCain

2007

$386,527

$105,467

27.29%

Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

2010

$923,411

$16,289

1.76%

VP Candidate Governor Sarah Palin

2007

$166,080

$3,325

2.00%

President George W. Bush

2007

$923,807

$165,660

17.93%

President Bill Clinton

1999

$416,039

$39,200

9.42%

President Ronald Reagan

1987

$345,357

$25,407

7.36%

Note that in many cases the political leaders will significantly increase their charitable contributions when running for office. For example, according to Barack Obama's 2000 tax return when he was an attorney and professor at Harvard, his adjusted gross income was $240,505, but his charitable giving totaled a measly $2,350 (less than 1% of his income). Similarly, Joe Biden's 1998 tax return shows an adjusted gross income of $215,432. His charitable gifts were limited to $195 that year, or 0.1% of his income.

The tax returns can be found here: http://www.taxhistory.org/www/website.nsf/Web/PresidentialTaxReturns

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