guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 April 2012 14.24 EDT
White House says president believes he should pay more tax as returns show he and Michelle paid 20.5% on $789,674
The White House has said the president believes he should pay more tax as the release of Barack Obama‘s returns showed he was taxed at a higher rate than his Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney, last year but below many ordinary Americans.
The president’s joint tax return with his wife, Michelle, released by the White House on Friday, reveals they paid tax at a rate of 20.5% on income of $789,674 in 2011.
The Obamas’ earnings fell by nearly $1m on the previous year as sales of the president’s bestselling books declined. The first couple paid $162,074 in income tax. They also donated a similar amount to 39 charities.
The vice-president, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill, paid tax at 23% on income of $379,035.
The release of the returns was politically charged because the president has built part of his re-election campaign around accusing the Republicans of giving millionaires tax breaks paid for by cutting services to the less well off.
The White House has also targeted Romney, who paid tax at less than 15% over the past two years on his multimillion-dollar income from a vast fortune.
Obama has been campaigning for the imposition of the “Buffett rule” that would see those earning more than $1m a year, whether from salary or investments, pay tax at a rate of at least 30%. The rule is named after the business magnate, Warren Buffet, who called for the rich to pay more to the treasury because he said it is wrong that he should be taxed at a lower rate than his secretary.