How Much Does the US President Make?

Photo of US Dollar note

Presidential Earnings

The pay for Presidents of the United States has changed a handful of times since George Washington was in office until the present day. There hasn’t been an increase in pay since 2001. Presidents in office haven’t complained about the money they make. They want to make a difference in this leadership role.

They aren’t there for the money, believe in the United States constitution, and want to uphold it. They prepare for challenges, pursue economic growth, and take care of anything that comes their way. United States presidents wear many hats and work closely with their own team, Congress, and foreign leaders. 

There is no vacation for the President of the United States. They travel for the job and fun, but they are always accessible for business as needed. The position is time-consuming, challenging, and comes with plenty of critics. Yet it is a role one can fill to help change the course of history for the United States. 

Congress determines the salary and other benefit amounts for the President. This is due to a specific element of the United States Constitution. This was written to prevent any President in office from setting their personal salary. 

1789

The first President of the United States, George Washington, earned $25,000 annually. This amount stayed in effect for 18 different Presidents of the country. There was no increase until 1873. There have been very few increases over the years. 

1873

The pay per year for a President effective 1873 was $50,000. President Grant was the first to receive this amount. It took effect at the start of his second term in office. 

1909

Starting with President William Taft in 1909, the annual salary for a President was $75,000. That was considered to be quite a substantial amount of money at that time! 

1949

When President Harry Truman began his second term in 1949, he got a pay increase. He had received the $75,000 annually during his first term. He became the first President to earn $100,000 per year. 

1969

The presidential salary became $200,000 annually in 1969. President Richard Nixon was the first to receive this sum of money in the office. 

2001 

The annual salary for the President of the United States doubled in 2001 from $200,000 to $400,000. President Bill Clinton received $200,000 annually as President. When President George W. Bush came into office after him, he became the first to receive the $400,000.

Additional Benefits

In addition to their salary, the President gets some additional benefits for expenses and entertainment. That amount is currently $50,000 for expenses, $19,000 for entertainment, and $100,000 for travel. Those additional benefits aren’t taxable.

Photo of Michelle Obama
The First Lady does not receive a salary but is expected to carry out a number of duties.

Each President receives $100,000 when they take office. This money is to decorate the White House as they see fit. The First Lady typically takes on this task. 

While she doesn’t earn any money while in the White House, she is expected to take on a variety of entertaining duties, it is common for a First Lady to donate her time to charitable causes. 

After their Term Ends

When a presidential term ends, they continue to get benefits. This includes Secret Service protection for them and their spouse. Children can receive a Secret Service detail until the age of 16. Past presidents retain health insurance coverage. 

The pension amount annually after a President leaves office is $219,000. This falls under the Former Presidents Act, established in 1958. 

Presidents who Didn’t Take Their Salary

Several United States Presidents haven’t taken a dime of their salary. Instead, they donate that money to charitable causes. The first President to do this was Herbert Hoover. 

He was already a multi-millionaire when he took office. He selected a variety of charitable organizations and donated his salary to them.

Photo of President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was one of several presidents who did not take his salary and instead donated it to charity.

John F. Kennedy donated his salary as President to the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, and the United Negro College Fund. 

He didn’t accept a salary when he was appointed to the Senate or the House either. His salary in those roles was donated to the Cuban Families Committee. 

President Donald Trump selected a different charity each quarter for his salary to be donated to while he was in office. To date, Trump is the wealthiest president to take office. He didn’t need the money with a net worth of about $3.1 billion!

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