The president of the United States holds, arguably, the most important job in the world, and according to Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution, is entitled to an annual salary — the highest salary of all federal employees. George Washington was paid $25,000 per year, and the presidential salary has only been increased five times since 1789.
Salary and Expense Account
As of 2014, the president earns an annual salary of $400,000 per year, plus a $50,000 non-taxable expense account. The presidential salary had been $200,000 since 1969, but in 1999, Congress passed legislation doubling the salary to its current level before President George W. Bush took office. The president's salary is subject to income tax. The non-taxable expense account is generally used to cover the costs of meetings or events that are not sponsored by a government department or agency. Any money from the expense account that is not used within a calendar year is returned to the Treasury Department.
In addition to an annual salary, U.S. presidents receive a retirement plan. After leaving office, the former president receives an annual pension that is equal to the current salary of a Cabinet member. As of 2011, the presidential pension is $196,700 per year. Former presidents also receive Secret Service protection for 10 years after leaving office and are reimbursed for staff, office, travel and mail expenses.
Modern U.S. presidents also receive a number of perks in addition to the annual salary and retirement plan. The president and his family live in the White House, which comes equipped with a movie theater, bowling alley, swimming pool and private quarters for the family and guests. While the president is technically responsible for purchasing his own groceries, the First Family has access to a full staff that includes several professional chefs. The president and first lady are also entitled to use Camp David, a retreat in western Maryland, as well as presidential transportation including the presidential limousine, Air Force One and Marine One.
Other Sources of Income
When most U.S. presidents come into office, they already have significant resources from their prior business or governmental positions. When they leave office, most continue to earn money in addition to the presidential pension, from book contracts, speaking engagements and new leadership positions both in and outside of government.