Friday, July 13, 2012

Over 30% of President Obama’s 2009-2011 Gross Income Came From Foreign Sources

By Jim Lindgren

I find it strange that the Obama campaign would be making so much of Romney’s income from foreign sources when Obama’s foreign source income appears to be a much bigger percentage of his income over the last few years. Of course, one can’t tell for sure because Mitt Romney has not released his 2009 tax return.

Yet in the three tax years in which Barack Obama has been President (2009, 2010, and 2011), fully 30.1% of the Obamas’ gross income has come from foreign sources: ($2,711,340 out of a 3-year total gross income of $8,993,449). In 2009, 26.5% of the Obamas’ gross income came from foreign sources. In 2010 it was a whopping 41.4%, and in 2010 it was 30.2%.

The salary that we taxpayers pay him as President (just under $1.2 million over the 3 years) accounted for less than 13% of the Obamas’ income, a share dwarfed by their 30% from foreign sources over the same period.

From 2009 through 2011, the Obamas paid $87,429 in foreign taxes, which they applied toward a credit to reduce their U.S. tax bill. The amounts I examined are reported on Form 1116, of which there are two filed along with their 1040 when they had both general and passive foreign income.

Their returns do not disclose which foreign countries are responsible for paying the Obamas the $2.7 million in foreign source income, but the overwhelming bulk of it must come from payments resulting directly or indirectly from book sales. Nonetheless, the Obamas did report a total of $3,611 in foreign passive income in 2009 and 2010, a type of income that most often results from investments in foreign countries. Like some of the foreign investments for which Romney has been pilloried, this Obama passive foreign income might result from the foreign investments of U.S. financial entities in which the Obamas invested.

I hope that the White House press will be able to determine the foreign sources that account for over 30% of the Obamas’ income. And given President Obama’s campaign rhetoric, I would especially like to know the origins of the foreign passive income.


  1. Are we sure it's not his Kenyan paymasters compensating him for his anti-colonial activities here as the Manchurian candidate?

  2. "From 2009 through 2011, the Obamas paid $87,429 in foreign taxes, which they applied toward a credit to reduce their U.S. tax bill."

    That's the best part though.

  3. I am eagerly awaiting Lindgren's followup post, detailing how confidential sources revealed to him that Bellesiles filled out Obama's tax returns in order to funnel foreign money to the Fast and Furious operation by omitting key credit card information. Muahahahahaha!

  4. Jim Lindgren. Doing the jobs that David Bernstein refuses to do.

    1. Unfortunately, that is very few jobs indeed.

  5. I would nominate this for Goofiest Lindgren Post Ever, but that would require me to first read all his other posts.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to post this. It may seem like a futile enterprise--I happened to find the link because I was reading comments on the subsequent post at Volokh, not because I was looking for it--but it is a useful service nonetheless. One of the great things about is that assertions made in blog posts are challenged and debated in the comments. I think Kerr deserves a ton of credit for occasionally responding to Lindgren's posts, thus opening the arena for discussion. I don't imagine this will be quite so popular and lively, but it is a start. Thanks!

  7. What a hack you are, Lindgren! A perfect example of the Peter Principle, and an even better argument against tenure, though I still support tenure -- and first amendment rights for unpopular opinions.

    Yes, it's perfectly legitimate for corporations (who are people too, you know) to completely offset their US tax liability with foreign taxes, but not OK for Obama to do so?

    Then there is the notion that the market for books and other intellectual property is NOT international. Does Obama or any other author have any control whatsoever over where the buyers of their books reside? And more importantly, should they? Of course not.

    P.S. Yes, Orin Kerr deserves a ton of credit, not just for posting contra-Lindgren, but also for every post and comment that he makes. Seriously.


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