How much the president on the United States gets paid

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.

Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool.

Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool.

How Long Do Presidents Get Secret Service?

Former presidents and their spouses receive Secret Service protection for life. In 1994, Congress reduced it to 10 years for presidents who entered office after 1997. But Congress reinstated lifetime protection in 2012. Children of former presidents receive Secret Service protection until they are 16 years old. The cost of Secret Service protection is not made public.

The Former Presidents Act provides $1 million a year for security and travel expenses if they didn't receive Secret Service protection. Former first spouses receive $500,000 a year for security and travel purposes if they didn't receive Secret Service protection.


Why Does the President Have a Salary?

On top of their pay, the President of the United States is given separate expense accounts, including non-taxable travel accounts and entertainment funds. Upon leaving office, former presidents are given a pension and office space. They have secret service protection. The first ladies of deceased ex-presidents also receive pensions. Factoring in all of those other perks, and the power that comes with the position, why do the taxpayers pay the president directly?

The reason is largely ideological. The rationale, as described by the founding fathers in the Federalist Papers, is that the president’s salary reinforces their status as an employee of and servant to the American public. A president who is not beholden to the people for his livelihood is more likely to act on their own interests. Later generations may further argue that the presidential salary would be a necessity for any poorer citizens to get to the White House. In some states like New Hampshire, where representatives receive an annual salary of $200, it is financially impossible for many to hold public office.


Underwood Archives / Contributor

President Harry Truman began his second term in 1949 by getting a 33 percent pay raise. He was the first president to earn six figures, going from the $75,000 that presidents had been paid since 1909 to $100,000. The salary of $100,000 went into effect in 1949 and continued through 1969. The 1949 pay would be $1.08 million in 2019 dollars.

Earning $100,000 a year were:

  • Harry Truman
  • Dwight Eisenhower
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Lyndon Johnson

What Do Presidents Do?

The president of an organization is the top executive responsible for strategic vision and planning. The president provides leadership, holding the organization accountable to stakeholders and its own policies, presenting the appropriate image to the public, and directing the short- and long-range goals of the company. Presidents oversee all types and sizes of organizations with different corporate structures in all industries, and, thus, the specific duties and responsibilities will vary. The …Read more

Salary for First Spouses

The First Spouse receives no salary.

Some First Spouses give up lucrative careers to enter the White House. For example, Hillary Clinton had been a partner at Rose Law Firm in Arkansas and Michelle Obama was an executive at the University of Chicago hospitals.


Hulton Archive / Getty Images

American presidents were paid $50,000 beginning in 1873 with the second term of Ulysses S. Grant and continuing through Theodore Roosevelt. The 1873 pay would be $1.07 million in 2019 dollars.

Earning $50,000 were:

  • Ulysses S. Grant 
  • Rutherford B. Hayes
  • James Garfield
  • Chester Arthur
  • Grover Cleveland
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • Grover Cleveland
  • William McKinley
  • Theodore Roosevelt

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