Donald Trump Would Only Be the Third President to Refuse His Salary

November 14, 2016, 8:17 PM UTC
Correspondent Lesley Stahl interviews President-elect Donald J. Trump on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
Photograph by CBS—Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump gave his first extended post-election TV interview to CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday, and in addition to certain policy plans, he pledged to refuse the $400,000 salary that comes with his new position.

When journalist Lesley Stahl asked Trump if he’d accept the money, he said, “Well, I’ve never commented on this, but the answer is no.” However, that’s not technically true—Trump made that same pledge during a campaign rally in New Hampshire back in September.

Still, Trump said, “I think I have to by law take $1, so I’ll take $1 a year. But it’s a—I don’t even know what it is. Do you know what the salary is?” And when Stahl informed Trump that it’s $400,000, he said, “No, I’m not gonna take the salary. I’m not taking it.”


Trump would only be the third president to reject the salary: John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, who were both extremely wealthy, also said no. President Barack Obama also agreed to return a small sliver of his salary to the Treasury in the wake of the 2013 government shutdown to show solidarity with federal workers.

The president-elect’s decision may not be particularly surprising given that the real estate mogul’s net worth is estimated to be around $3.7 billion, according to Forbes.

But the logistics of rejecting the money might be a little more complicated than Trump thinks. As Forbes’ Kelly Phillips Erb points out in an extensive explainer, the presidential salary is appropriated by statute, so it may not be able to be just straight up rejected. Not to mention the presidency also comes with a $50,000 per year expense allowance that can be deferred back to the Treasury. (The salary itself is dispensed.)

So, Trump would likely have to take the route that Kennedy and Hoover took: Donate the money to charity or to the Treasury Department. And he may be able to claim a charitable contribution as a deduction on his taxes.

Trump is the first major party candidate since the 1970s to not release his tax returns.

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