How Much Does the President Make? US Presidents’ Salaries During and After Office

The White House in Washington DC with waving United States flag.
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The office of the President of the United States is arguably the most important job in the country. Compared to the salaries of executives of Fortune 100 companies, however, it may appear that the compensation doesn’t keep up. While it’s true that the president’s salary is modest, other perks go along with the job, and those often lead to far greater earnings after the term has ended.

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How Much Does the President Make?

The presidential salary is $400,000, which is taxable to the president as income. There is also a $50,000 expense account, which is not taxed. This account is used to defray expenses associated with the president’s official duties, and, if not used, reverts to the U.S. Treasury.

Presidential Income Breakdown

Compensation Type Amount
Salary $400,000
Expense account $50,000
Travel $100,000
Entertainment $19,000

Presidential Historical Salary Range

The president gets a raise far less often than most workers. The presidential salary has only been changed five times from the initial salary.

  • 1789: $25,000 per year
  • 1873: $50,000 per year
  • 1909: $75,000 per year
  • 1949: $100,000 per year
  • 1969: $200,000 per year
  • 1999: $400,000 per year — remains to present day

Some presidents don’t take their salary. George Washington declined his presidential salary in his inaugural address. John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover donated their salaries to charity, and, in the case of Hoover, to staff.  Donald Trump donated his salary to several federal departments.

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Additional Financial Perks

Of course, presidents get other benefits, as well. Their cost of living is virtually non-existent, as they live in furnished residences such as the White House, and travel expenses are paid for through such means as Air Force One. They and their spouses get Secret Service protection for life.

Presidential Compensation After Leaving Office

When the president leaves office, they receive an annual salary or pension, travel expenses and more:

  • $221,400 annual pension for life
  • Allowances for office space and staffing, beginning six months after leaving office
  • $1 million in travel expenses, or are reimbursed up to that amount
  • Lifetime health benefits
  • Funeral ceremony with full honors and, if they so choose, burial at Arlington National Cemetery

Book Deals, Speaking Engagements and More

Former presidents often make significantly more money after leaving office than they did when they were the leader of the free world.

Speaking engagements are a gold mine for ex-Chief Executives, with Barrack Obama commanding up to $400,000 to speak to a group, George W. Bush asking for $700,000 and Bill Clinton getting $200,000.

What Some Former Presidents Did After Leaving Office

Being President of the United States is a tough act to follow, but many who leave the office don’t wish to retire. Here’s what some former presidents have done since their terms ended.

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama earned $400,000 a year as president, up from the $157,000 per year he earned as a U.S. Senator before becoming president. Before that, Michelle Obama was the family’s primary breadwinner, as she earned $247,000 as an attorney, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

In 2017, both of the Obamas signed publishing contracts for their autobiographies, to the tune of $60 million. They own homes in Washington, D.C., and on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and have an estimated worth of $70 million.

George W. Bush

After leaving the White House, George W. Bush also got a book deal but was reported to have been paid just $10 million. His memoir, “Decision Points” was published in 2010.

He has also written “A Charge to Keep,” “We will prevail: President George W. Bush on war, terrorism and freedom,” “George W. Bush on God and on Country: The President Speaks Out About Faith, Principle, and Patriotism” and “41: A Portrait of My Father.” A collection of his speeches was published as “The George W. Bush Foreign Policy Reader: Presidential Speeches with Commentary.”

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Bill Clinton

After leaving the White House, Bill Clinton, like many other ex-presidents, worked on establishing his presidential library and had many speaking engagements. Unlike any other ex-president in history, however, he was also very active in his wife’s campaign for president in 2016.

Like Obama, Bill Clinton also wrote a book after he left the White House, called “Between Hope and History,” and he was reportedly paid $14 million to do so. Since then, he has written three other non-fiction books, called “My Life,” “Giving” and “Back to Work.”

Clinton also co-authored two fiction books with best-selling author James Patterson. Political thrillers “The President is Missing” and “The President’s Daughter” were both on the New York Times bestseller list.

George H. W. Bush

Some ex-presidents have sufficient assets that they don’t need to work after leaving the office.

When George H. W. Bush finished his presidential term, he re-entered private life by volunteering at a church and sitting on the board of a local hospital. He set up his presidential library and museum and raised funds for disaster relief in Asia along with Bill Clinton. He also campaigned for his sons George W. Bush and Jeb Bush.

Jimmy Carter

Carter was not only an unusual president, but he is also an unusual ex-president. He has dedicated his post-White House life to human rights and charitable causes.

He is a very visible volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds houses for the underprivileged. While other ex-presidents use their notoriety to raise funds and give speeches, Carter can be seen hammering nails and painting walls.

After his presidency, Carter wrote “Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President,” “Turning Point” and “An Hour Before Daylight.”


Being President of the United States requires selfless dedication to the country, and since the salary is modest, it’s understandable that some former presidents are well-compensated for sharing their experience. Writing books, giving speeches and working for charitable organizations are all ways that ex-presidents can benefit from their unique position.


  • How much do ex-presidents get paid a year?
    • When the president leaves office, they receive an annual salary or pension, which, as of 2021, is $221,400, which is the salary for top-level government executives, such as cabinet members.
  • How much money does the president make an hour?
    • As the current annual salary for the president is $400,000 this roughly translates to around $208.33 per hour based on a 5-day, 40-hour work week.
  • What was George Washington's salary as president?
    • George Washington made $0 as president, as he declined the salary upon his inauguration.
  • How much do vice presidents make?
    • The Vice President of the United States currently makes $235,100 a year.
    • President Joe Biden, who now makes $400,000 annually, made this Vice President's salary from 2009 to 2017.
  • How much do members of congress make?
    • Though the amount of money government officials make varies, here are some real-time salaries for elected roles:
    • Speaker of the House of Representatives: $223,500
    • Senate president pro tempore: $193,400
    • Senate and House majority and minority leaders: $193,400
    • Other senators and representatives: $174,000
    • Chief Justice of the United States: $286,700
    • Supreme Court associate justices: $274,200
    • Circuit judges: $236,900
    • District judges: $223,400

Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC,, and more.
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