What Happened? Obamas, Bidens Release Tax Returns

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President Obama and Vice President Biden released their tax returns for the year 2013 to the public on April 11, 2014. The tax returns are available to download on the White House blog as PDF files.

President Obama filed jointly with his spouse Michelle Obama. They reported a combined total income of $503,183 and a total tax liability of $98,169. As is the case for many taxpayers in this income range,

the Obamas reported an alternative minimum tax of $9,513, which is calculated based on deductions that are not allowed for AMT, such as state and local taxes. The Obamas also incurred the net investment income tax and the additional Medicare tax, two new taxes that took effect in 2013 for higher-income earners. The Obamas overpaid their taxes by $19,108, and opted to apply all of that refund towards their 2014 estimated tax.

To calculate their effective tax rate, we could take their total tax liability and divide it by total income (98,169 / 503,183 = 19.5%). But that would be an incomplete picture. The Obamas’ total tax includes self-employment tax and the additional Medicare tax (both of which, presumably, go to fund the Medicare trust fund), and Social Security taxes were withheld on the President’s salary. So to get a complete picture of their federal tax burden, we’d have to add in Medicare withholding ($7,478 from Form 8959 line 19) and Social Security withholding ($7,049.40 = 6.2%

of $113,700, inferred from Schedule SE line 8a). With these payroll taxes factored in, the Obamas paid a total of $112,696.4 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes, or 22.4% of their total income.

Vice Present Biden filed jointly with his spouse Dr. Jill Biden. They reported a combined total income of $408,733, and a total tax liability of $96,378. The Bidens also incurred an additional minimum tax, the net investment income tax, and the additional Medicare tax. They also paid a “nanny tax” of $656, representing payroll taxes for compensation paid to household employees. The Bidens owed $5,381.

To calculate the Biden’s effective tax rate, we take their total tax liability of $96,378, add in their Social Security withholding ($12,639, from “statement 6” of their tax return) and Medicare withholding ($4,807 from Form 8959 line 19). With these payroll taxes factored in, the Bidens paid a total of $113,824 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes, or 27.8% of their total income.

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