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Presidential tax refunds: By the numbers
Obama is getting a big fat check from the IRS this year — and in the Oval Office, that's the rule, not the exception
 
The Obamas will get a $24,515 refund check from the IRS this year, after slightly overpaying their six-figure federal tax bill.
The Obamas will get a $24,515 refund check from the IRS this year, after slightly overpaying their six-figure federal tax bill.
Olivier Douliery/Pool/Corbis

After filing his taxes this year, President Obama scored a $25,000 federal tax refund — bigger than some workers' annual salary. It turns out, though, that "fatty tax checks for presidents aren't anything new," says Nicole Fabian-Weber at The Stir, and President Obama's 2011 haul is actually on the smallish side, historically speaking. Big refunds are often due to generous charitable giving, sizable annual incomes, and proportionally high taxes; though "if we were suspicious," says Peter Grier at The Christian Science Monitor, "we'd say that presidential advisers tell new chief executives that it's better" to overpay and receive a refund than underpay and have to pony up more later, lest they risk looking "like they're not willing to pay their fair share." Here, a look at some recent presidential refunds and related tax numbers from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.:

$789,674
The Obamas' 2011 income, largely comprised of book royalties and his $400,000 presidential salary

$162,074
Amount the Obamas paid in federal taxes in 2011, plus $31,941 in Illinois state taxes

$24,515
The Obamas' 2011 tax refund

3.1
Percent of income Obama got back in his tax refund

$12,334
The Obamas' 2010 tax refund. (They got back $8,287 in 2009 and $26,014 in 2008.)

$207,818
Mitt Romney's estimated 2011 tax refund. (Mitt is expected to pay roughly $3.5 million in federal taxes on nearly $21 million in income.)

$61,451
George W. Bush's tax refund in 2003. (Other than 2003, the Bushes got refunds of between $19,300 and $39,900 from 2002 to 2006)

$127,200
The Bushes' tax refund in 2000, the year Bush was elected 

$2,300 to $7,900
Range of the Clintons' annual refunds from 1993 to 1999

$3,228
Amount George H.W. Bush owed in 1989. (The Bushes then overpaid the IRS by $14,129 in 1990 and $6,193 in 1991) 

$124,582
Amount Ronald Reagan owed the IRS in 1982. (The Reagans overpaid the IRS several other years.) 

$35,165
Jimmy Carter's tax refund in 1977. (The Carters also got refunds of $15,900 in 1978 and $16,700 in 1979) 

$81,730
Richard Nixon's tax refund in 1972. (The Nixons also had four- and five-digit refunds from 1969 to 1971)

Sources: Christian Science Monitor, The Stir, Tax History Project, White House

 

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