Obamas Pay 18.4% Federal Income Taxes, Donate Big to Charity

President Obama's family
Getty Images
The White House has released 2012 tax information for the President and Vice President.

The President and First Lady filed a joint return reporting adjusted gross income of $608,611. They paid $112,214 in taxes for an effective federal income tax rate of 18.4 percent and donated $150,034 to charity (about 24.6 percent of their earnings).

The White House press release took the opportunity to tout the so-called Buffett Rule, which it says "would ask the wealthiest Americas to pay their fair share while protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up." The President noted that he would pay more in taxes under his own proposals. The Obamas also paid $29,450 in Illinois state income tax.

The Bidens also filed a joint federal tax return, as well as a combined Delaware income tax return. In addition, Dr. Biden filed a separate non-resident Virginia tax return. The Vice President and his wife reported adjusted gross income of $385,072 and paid $87,851 in federal tax. They also paid $13,531 and $3,593 in state income tax to Delaware and Virginia, respectively, and gave $7,190 to charity.

To view the Obamas' and Bidens' tax returns in full, visit the White House website.

6 PHOTOS
President Obama's Weirdest New Taxes
See Gallery
Obamas Pay 18.4% Federal Income Taxes, Donate Big to Charity

President Obama wants to tax your Stoli Razberi.

Distilled spirits currently get a tax break if they include flavors, but the president's budget proposal does away with that. Spirits are taxed at $13.50 per proof-gallon (a gallon of 100-proof liquor), but if distillers add flavorings, they can roll back some of that tax: Up to 2.5 percent of the alcohol in those flavoring mixtures is exempt from the spirits tax.

It doesn't sound like much, but the Treasury claims this tax break gives an unfair advantage to flavored liquors, particularly foreign producers whose flavor quotients aren't restricted, as they are for U.S. producers. Heavily-flavored, foreign-made spirits can be sold cheaper, and consumers might be more likely to buy them than they otherwise would, Treasury argues.

The new rule would be good for Jack Daniel's, bad for Absolut Citron.

In a creative tax maneuver, an Alabama land developer was able to deduct part of his golf course.

E.A. Drummond bought real estate on a Gulf Coast peninsula in the 1990s, created a business to build a golf course on it, and developed the land around the golf course. In 2002, he had the business place a conservation easement - a partial restriction of what can be done with a piece of land, for the purpose of conserving it or preserving "recreational amenities," golf among them as the tax code is written - donated that easement to a conservation land trust, and claimed the value of the easement as a charitable-giving tax deduction.

Under Obama's budget proposal, that couldn't be done.

In explaining the proposed change, Treasury protests that such moves have "raised concerns" that the deductions, often claimed by the developers of homes around golf courses, "are excessive," and that they mainly advance "the private interests of donors" not "bona fide conservation activities."

President Obama smokes from time to time, but he proposes hiking the tax on cigarettes to pay for early-childhood education.

Cigarettes have been taxed at just under $1.01 per pack, to help pay for the 2009 expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In his budget proposal, Obama suggests raising that to $1.95 per pack.

The administration's rationale is, essentially, that cigarettes are harmful.

Citing statistics on smoking-related deaths, Treasury writes, "Excise taxes, levied on manufacturers and importers of tobacco products, are one of the main ways that policymakers can affect tobacco production and consumption."

Perhaps a dead horse by now, Obama is still beating it.

The so-called "loophole for corporate jets" works like this: Companies can write off the value of their equipment as it depreciates - to encourage investment, the government lets businesses recoup some cost of buying equipment by letting them count its depreciation against their income. The IRS has a schedule for how fast different kinds of equipment "depreciate," and how much of their value can be written off when.

When it comes to airplanes owned by businesses, commercial and freight-carrying planes can be written off in full after seven years. Planes that aren't used for those purposes - corporate jets, crop-dusters, and planes used for firefighting, for instance - can be written off after five years.

Under Obama's budget proposal, noncommercial passenger aircraft are lumped in with commercial and freight planes, meaning businesses can deduct the value of their corporate jets after seven years, not five.

Say you're a business, someone wins a lawsuit against you, and you're required to pay damages. You can write them off.

Not so, under Obama's budget proposal.

The White House plan would not only prevent businesses from deducting punitive damages from their taxable income, it would tax damages paid out by insurers, too: If a business takes out an insurance policy for some kind of liability, and that insurer ends up paying out damages on behalf of the company under its policy, those damages would be added to the business's taxable income.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Driving for Lyft? Use This Tax Preparation Checklist

So, you decided to become your own boss (at least part-time) and start driving for a ride-sharing company like Lyft. Use the Lyft tax preparation checklist below to organize your income and deductions to make filing your taxes a breeze. Remember, not all items listed will apply to you, but it will give you a good idea on what you need to report as income and what you can claim as a deduction.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Video: The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Explained

Originally created to make sure the wealthy paid taxes even after using tax breaks and loopholes, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) has never been updated and continues to impact middle class Americans more and more each year as a result of inflation. To compensate for inflation, the AMT now includes an exemption amount. This exemption is indexed for inflation so it changes every year.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Energy Tax Credit: Which Home Improvements Qualify?

Taxpayers who upgrade their homes to make use of renewable energy may be eligible for a tax credit to offset some of the costs. As of the 2018 tax year, the federal government offers the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit. The credits are good through 2019 and then are reduced each year through the end of 2021. Claim the credits by filing Form 5695 with your tax return.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Top 5 Reasons to File Your Taxes Early

Every April, many taxpayers wait until the last minute to file their federal income tax returns. Despite this tendency, there are many reasons to file your taxes early. If you will receive a refund, you may want to submit your return as quickly as possible. Additionally, there are benefits to filing early for those taxpayers who have a balance due.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com
Read Full Story
Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.