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. [See update below; the passive income indeed came from the foreign investments of a U.S. entity in which the Obama’s had an interest (Michelle Obama in a beneficiary), but it is not one over which they had any control over the investments.]
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 [again, see below].
UPDATE: Mystery solved. Jeffery Silver, Visiting Asst. Professor at Detroit Mercy, kindly emails to point out that in the 2010 return Statement 14 following one of the the Obamas’ Forms 1116 shows that 2010’s passive foreign source income ($1,571) resulted from “Freeman Henry G. Jr. Decd TW,” which is the so-called “Pin Money Trust” set up for first ladies by Henry Freeman, who died in 1917. The 2009 return does not appear to contain a similar statement, but given the similarity in amounts, the passive income in that year must come from the same source. Just to be clear, the Obamas would have no discretion over the investment of the Freeman Trust.