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

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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, there are other perks that go along with the job, and it often leads to far greater earnings after the term has ended.

Presidential Salary and Perks

In 2022, 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 back to the U.S. Treasury.

Historical Salary

The president gets a raise far less often than most workers. In fact, the presidential salary has only been changed five times from the initial salary of $25,000 per year, which was established in 1789.

In 1873, the presidential salary was doubled to $50,000. In 1909, it was raised again, this time to $75,000 per year. In 1949, it increased to $100,000, and then it doubled again to $200,000 in 1969. In 1999, it was set at $400,000, where it remains today.

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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.

Of course, presidents get other benefits as well. They live in a furnished residence and their living and travel expenses are paid for. They and their spouses get Secret Service protection for life.

Presidential Compensation After Leaving Office

When the president leaves office, they receive an annual pension, which, as of 2021, is $221,400, which is the salary for top-level government executive such as a cabinet member.

They also receive allowances for office space and staffing, beginning six months after leaving office. They are reimbursed for up to $1 million in travel expenses. They get lifetime health befits. When a former president dies, they receive a 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.

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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.

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, prior to 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.

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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.”

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 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.”

Takeaway

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.

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, Equifax.com, and more.
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