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Obama's tax returns show leap in income

The tax returns for Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, offer new insights into the power couple's rising fortunes, including a leap in income from $240,505 to $1.6 million.
Obama 2008
Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., shakes hands with the crowd before he speaks at a town hall meeting in Medford, Ore., Saturday, March 22, 2008.Alex Brandon / AP

The tax returns for Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, offer new insights into the power couple's rising fortunes. They chronicle the candidate's rise from state legislator to U.S. senator and beyond.

The tax returns are dated between 2000 and 2006, showing a steep increase in family income.

For example, the first return indicates that the Obamas' combined income was $240,505. That included Obama's salary as a young state senator in Illinois, $16,500 in fees as a "foundation director/educational speaker," and his wife's salary as a hospital administrator.

But just six years later in 2006, the Obamas' combined income was $983,826, some $740,000 more. Obama had become a U.S. senator by then, making about $165,000 a year, and his wife's income from the University of Chicago Medical Center had sharply climbed to about $265,000 a year.

Obama's book-writing career had also become profitable, earning him $551,240 in author fees for 2006 alone.

Michelle Obama also made an additional $51,200 that year, as working as the director of TreeHouse Foods. According to the company's website, it's a "food manufacturer servicing primarily the retail grocery and foodservice chains."

The Obamas' best financial year came in 2005, when their total combined income was $1.6 million. That included $1.2 million in author fees for Obama's best-selling books. Michelle Obama's salary that year was $316,962 plus another $45,000 from TreeHouse Foods.

The Obamas also became more charitable as their incomes grew larger. In 2000, the couple gave $2,350 to charity, or about 1 percent of their total gross income.

In 2006, they donated $60,307 to charities, or about 6 percent of their gross income.

In 2005, the Obamas note a $5,000 donation to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where the controversial Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., was Obama's pastor. If Obama tithed more regularly to the church, there's no record of it in these tax returns.

The returns do not appear to shed any new light on the Obamas' controversial purchase of their Chicago home in 2005.

They spent $1.65 million on the property. At the same time, the wife of indicted Chicago campaign contributor Tony Rezko bought the adjoining lot for $625,000.

Critics have charged that Obama could not have bought the house unless the Rezkos bought the adjoining lot, and Obama has subsequently apologized for the "bone-headed mistake" of getting involved with someone was under scrutiny for alleged political corruption.

The Obamas don't appear to have substantial stock holdings. Their 2005 return, for example, lists modest dividends for UBS, JP Morgan Chase and Northern Trust Bank.

It also lists a $2,072 gain for the sale of Biopharma stock and a $15,208 loss for the sale of SkyTerra Communications stock.

While the Obama tax documents cover the basics for a seven-year period, there are many supporting documents that have not been released.

Meantime, Sen. Hillary Clinton has yet to release any of her records, but a spokesman says they will be made public in the next few weeks.