The president of the United States is the highest political office title one can have in America. But how much does the president make? You may be surprised by the number.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was elected as the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, November 7, 2020, after a win in swing states, such as Nevada and Pennsylvania. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, was also elected as the 49th Vice President of the United States and became the first woman to hold the title. Biden and Harris beat former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to win the 2020 election.
Like most U.S. federal government jobs, the president does receive a salary, which means that Biden will be paid for his job as the commander-in-chief and as the head of government. But Americans may be surprised at how little president gets paid each year—at least, compared to someone like the Queen of England. Read about how much the president earns ahead.
How much does the president make?
According to 3 U.S. Code § 102, the president of the United States makes $400,000 per year. The president also receives a $50,000 expense allowance, a $100,000 non-taxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment each year. (Per the code, any unused amount from the $50,000 expense allowance must also be returned to the treasury.) In total, this equals to $569,000 for all of the president’s expenses each year. (The First Lady, on the other hand, doesn’t make any money.) Since George Washington became the first president of the United States in 1789, there have been five salary increases for the commander-in-chief. The most recent was in 2001 when the salary doubled from $200,000 to $400,000. Washington, for his part, made $25,000 per year, which equals to $600,000 today after factoring in inflation.
Though a salary is offered to the president, not all commanders-in-chief have accepted. According to Politico, Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, was the first president to refuse his salary when he was elected in 1917. He instead donated it to charity. John F. Kennedy, the 35th president, also refused his salary when he was elected in 1961. Per Politico, he rejected both his congressional salary when he was a member of the House of Representatives and his presidential salary as POTUS. He did, however, keep his $50,000 expense allowance. Like Hoover, Kennedy donated his presidential salary to various charities.
What are other presidential perks?
Along with their salary, the president also receives numerous perks as POTUS. The first is free transportation in the presidential limousine, Marine One and Air Force One. Presidents also, of course, receive free housing in the White House. At the end of their terms, presidents remain on the government payroll, which includes an annual pension of about $200,000, healthcare, paid official travel and an office, according to Business Insider.
Per Business Insider, presidents also receive $100,000 to redecorate the White House once they’re elected. (Several presidents, such as Barack Obama, chose to not to use the money and used their own funds to redecorate instead.) On the food side, the president also has access to the White House’s fresh fruits and vegetable garden, as well as has meals created by an executive chef and an executive pastry chef. There are also more than 100 permanent residents in the White House, including maids, cooks, a plumber, a florist and a head housekeeper, according to Business Insider. Inside the White House, there’s also a movie theatre and a bowling alley.
So, while the president isn’t making millions of dollars each year, like, say, the Kardashians, it seems they have everything they need in the White House, plus a few hundred thousands of dollars of spending money.