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President Barack Obama paid lower tax rate than his secretary

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 6:22 p.m. MDT

In this President Barack Obama outlines his fiscal policy during an address at George Washington University in Washington. Obama said in April that he wants to do away with tax breaks to lower the rates and to reduce government borrowing. His proposal would result in $1 trillion in tax increases over the next 12 years. (Charles Dharapak, File, Associated Press) In this President Barack Obama outlines his fiscal policy during an address at George Washington University in Washington. Obama said in April that he wants to do away with tax breaks to lower the rates and to reduce government borrowing. His proposal would result in $1 trillion in tax increases over the next 12 years. (Charles Dharapak, File, Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (MCT) — As President Barack Obama mounts an aggressive campaign on what he calls tax fairness, his own tax burden has fallen to the lowest of his time in the White House, lower than many who make far less — including his secretary.

The president and first lady reported a joint adjusted gross income of $789,674 last year and paid $162,074 in federal taxes, or about 20.5 percent, according to the tax return released Friday by the White House. That income keeps the Obamas in the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

The Obamas' overall tax rate is slightly lower than the average for people in the top tier — largely because they made significant donations to charity. Data compiled by the Tax Policy Center show the average income tax rate for those making more than $532,000 is 24 percent. Obama's rate was closer to the average for household earning more than $210,000 — 19.2 percent

The Obamas' overall rate was still much higher than that of most middle-income Americans. Households making between $60,000 and $100,000 paid on average 8 percent of their income in federal incomes taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. Polling consistently has shown that most people think they pay much more in income taxes than they do, in part because people focus on their marginal tax rate — the tax they pay on the last dollar they earn — not their average tax rate.

Obama's rate is also notably higher than the one paid by his presumed Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire investor who paid about 14 percent of his income in federal income taxes last year, according to a summary of his tax return that he disclosed earlier this year.

But the Obamas' tax bite was slightly lower than the rate paid by the president's secretary, Anita Decker Breckenridge, who makes a $95,000 salary, the White House confirmed on Friday.

The White House would not disclose what Breckenridge paid, saying only that it was a "slightly higher rate" than her boss's.

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