The Richest and Poorest US Presidents
The American presidency is one of the most prestigious jobs in the world. The job pays well, but not by the standards of the very rich. In fact, the wealthiest politicians inherited or created fabulous fortunes that far exceed the salary of the office. But even the poorest presidents were still pretty well off.
Here’s a look at the richest and poorest presidents that have been in office using available data from tax returns, such as gross income, gross business net profit and gross capital assets. Net worth, family value and inflation were also considered.
Last updated: Oct. 6, 2020
Abraham Lincoln Net Worth: $1.36 Million
Abraham Lincoln, widely considered among historians to be one of America’s greatest and most important presidents, preserved the Union, won the Civil War, signed the Emancipation Proclamation and pushed through the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery.
When it comes to the richest presidents, however, he doesn’t even break the top 10. Lincoln served from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, earning $25,000 a year. In “Personal Finances of Abraham Lincoln,” author Harry E. Pratt put the value of Lincoln’s estate at $85,000 in 1865, or $ 1,355,400.61 in today’s money.
Richard Nixon Net Worth: $6.03 Million
Although he ended fighting in Vietnam and eased tensions with both Russia and China, Richard Nixon will forever be remembered as the only president ever to resign from office, which he did at the height of the Watergate scandal.
Like all those who held the office through the end of the 20th century, Nixon earned $200,000 a year as president, and was also afforded a $50,000 expense account. He reported $262,942 in income on his 1970 tax returns.
Nixon, who died in 1994, had a net worth of $988,522 in 1973, according to a Dec. 9 issue from that year by The San Francisco Examiner. That amounts to about $6.03 million in today’s dollars.
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Harry Truman Net Worth: $7.33 Million
One of the most consequential presidents in history, Harry Truman succeeded America’s longest-serving and perhaps most influential president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Truman ended World War II when he ordered the destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons, the only two times in history nuclear bombs were used in war.
He was not, however, one of the wealthiest presidents. Truman, who served from 1945 to 1953, had a net worth of $750,000 in 1953, reported The New York Times. That amounts to $7.33 million in today’s money. He earned $100,000 a year as president, plus a $50,000 expense account. He reported $100,539 in income in 1952, as well as $27,473 in business income in 1953.
Jimmy Carter Net Worth: $10 Million
Jimmy Carter, who served one term from 1977 to 1981, is one of just five living former presidents. The 39th president of the U.S., Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
He earned $200,000 a year as president and enjoyed a $50,000 expense account. In 1978, he reported $267,195 in income on his taxes, as well as $3,860 in capital assets. His net worth is estimated at $10 million.
Gerald Ford Net Worth: $10.1 Million
When Gerald Ford took the oath of office in 1974, he said, “I assume the presidency under extraordinary circumstances.” He became the 38th president of the U.S. following Nixon’s resignation.
Ford was granted a $50,000 expense account on top of the $200,000 annual salary he earned as president, and he declared $147,683 in income in his 1974 tax returns. He had an estimated net worth of $8.1 million when he died in 2006, the equivalent of about $10.4 million today.
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Barack Obama Net Worth: $70 Million
President Barack Obama goes down in history as the first African American to hold the Oval Office. His election in 2008 transcended centuries of inequality and the long-held presumption that the president would be white.
Obama has earned $400,000 a year since he became president, plus a $50,000 expense account. For the tax year 2015, the Obamas reported a joint adjusted gross income of $436,065. In 2017, Obama’s first year out of office, he received a presidential pension of $207,800. His fortune is estimated at $70 million, thanks in part to profits from his books, a lucrative speaking career and a large production deal with Netflix.
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Ronald Reagan Net Worth: $17.89 Million
Ronald Reagan, who survived being shot by a would-be assassin just 69 days after he took office in 1981, was known for stimulating economic growth. The former actor, who established doctrine of “peace through strength,” improved relations with the Soviet Union and battled terrorists abroad, as well.
He reported an income of $345,357 in his 1987 income taxes and capital assets of $46,208. Reagan’s net worth at the time of his death in 2004 was $13 million, the equivalent of about $17.89 million today. His wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan, had a net worth of $25 million at the time of her death.
George H. W. Bush Net Worth: $25 Million
A decorated combat veteran who was the youngest pilot in the entire Navy when he earned his wings, George H. W. Bush was the last World War II veteran to hold the office of president. During his tenure from 1989 to 1993, he oversaw America’s transition out of the Cold War as the Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin Wall fell. He also organized an international coalition to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Although he earned just $200,000 a year as president, along with a $50,000 expense account, Bush reported $1.33 million in income on his 1991 income taxes, along with $5,591 in capital assets. His net worth was reported to be $25 million.
George W. Bush Net Worth: $40 Million
When George W. Bush was elected, it was only the second time in American history that a son of a former president would go on to hold the office. He became a wartime president after the September 11 attacks and their economic destruction, a condition which would define his two-term presidency.
Bush holds another distinction, as well. He was the first president to earn $400,000 instead of the $200,000 salary that had been the standard since 1969, although his expense account stayed fixed at $50,000. In 2007, he declared $936,111 in income, $150,000 in business profits and $68,240 in capital assets. Bush is worth $40 million.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Net Worth: $60 Million
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fifth cousin to Theodore Roosevelt, led America out of the Great Depression and through World War II. The architect of the New Deal and America’s great social programs, Roosevelt’s four-term presidency — the longest in history — renewed the people’s faith in America’s government and financial institutions.
With a personal fortune worth $66.8 million today, FDR was one of America’s richest presidents. He earned $75,000 a year during his presidency and declared $93,601 in income on his 1937 taxes.
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Bill Clinton Net Worth: $120 Million
Bill Clinton, who served two terms from 1993 to 2001, was the first baby boomer to be elected president. He oversaw the greatest era of peace and prosperity in decades, and although he became the second president in history to be impeached, he enjoyed nearly unprecedented popularity in national polls.
He earned $200,000 a year as president and enjoyed a $50,000 expense account. In 1999, he declared $417,467 in income, $20,214 in business income and $122,094 in capital assets. Clinton’s net worth, when combined with his wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is estimated at $120 million.
John F. Kennedy Net Worth: $1.2 Billion
John F. Kennedy was the youngest president ever elected. He was also the first Roman Catholic president. His presidency included the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis and the emergence of Martin Luther King Jr. and the modern Civil Rights movement. On Nov. 22, 1963, barely past his 1,000th day in office, JFK was assassinated, the fourth president in American history to suffer such a fate.
The job paid $100,000 plus a hefty $50,000 expense account, which Kennedy reportedly refused. Although his precise net worth is unknown, his family is notoriously wealthy, valued at $1.2 billion, according to Forbes. And the New York Post claims Kennedy would have inherited his father’s fortune, estimated at the same amount.
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Donald Trump Net Worth: $2.1 Billion
Donald Trump, who took the Oath of Office on Jan. 20, 2017, is the richest U.S. president in history. The business mogul is No. 1,010 on the worldwide list of billionaires and No. 339 in the U.S., according to Forbes.
Trump inherited approximately $40 million from his late father, real estate developer Fred Trump. His earnings have led to the development of numerous companies and business ventures including his real estate and hospitality empire, The Trump Organization. He has a stake in businesses worldwide including golf courses, hotels, skyscrapers, wineries and more.
Trump’s net worth has taken a dive in recent months, as coronavirus has affected his real estate and leisure investments across the globe. According to Forbes, his net worth dropped a dramatic $1 billion in a single month. Another shoe may drop soon, as the New York Times recently published bombshell Trump tax return information spanning decades. The records show massive investment losses, resulting in Trump paying zero federal income tax for 10 of the prior 15 years.
George Washington: $40.7 Billion
In the annals of American history, one president stands out above all others, in both significance and finances. You see the face of the father of our country, George Washington, every time you look at a $1 bill — and for good reason. The man who led the upstart American nation to independence from the juggernaut British Empire was the richest president in history.
According to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, economic historians have looked at Washington’s holdings compared to the size of the U.S. economy at the time to determine his wealth. When he died, Washington’s estate was valued at $750,000, roughly 0.19 percent of the country’s $411 million GDP. Compared to the 2019 GDP of $21.43 trillion, his fortune would be worth $40.7 billion.
The richest presidents in history were some of the world’s wealthiest men. Even the poorest presidents, however, still did pretty well for themselves. Even the most destitute on the list, Abraham Lincoln, would be worth more today than most Americans.
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Net worth figures are indicative of assets versus liabilities. All net worth figures are according to CelebrityNetWorth.com unless otherwise noted.
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