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Nov 19, 2016 07:31 PM EST

President-elect Donald Trump Doesn’t Want His Salary, Can He Refuse?

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During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump was asked if he will be taking his salary if he was elected. His answer was no. Now that he is, he told CBS' 60 minutes he may have to take a dollar as required by law but the answer is no.

Donald Trump is not the first to decline a President's salary. George Washington also said 'no' during his Inaugural Address in 1789 but Congress thought otherwise.

Virginia's John Page said the Constitution requires that the President gets paid so they are duty-bound to provide it. Congress decided that the President will receive a salary of $25,000 and the patriotic Washington was obliged to accept.

Constitutional scholar David P. Currie explains that the President's salary is "not designed for the President's benefit." Instead it was the Founding Fathers way of ensuring that the President was well compensated to prevent unwanted instances like bribery and corruption.

Forbes reported the estimated net worth of Donald Trump is about $3.7 billion. While he may not need $400,000 per year, law requires he gets paid. He does have the option of giving the money back to the Treasury or donating it to charity.

John F. Kennedy donated his salary to charity while he was in the White House, continuing the practice adopted from his days in Congress. Self-made millionaire Herbert Hoover also donated his salary from the Oval Office to charity. After the government shutdown in 2013, Pres. Barack Obama agreed to return 5% of his salary to the Treasury.

The tax question

During the campaign, Clinton supporter and multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett challenged then Donald Trump to make his tax returns public but the latter refused.

Mr. Trump did not disclose his tax returns despite criticism. Moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. however changes things. Presidents pay taxes, they are not exempted from doing so.

In fact, Hoover and Kennedy paid the tax for the salaries donated to charity. You can view some of the presidential federal income tax return in the Tax Analysts Tax History Project.

In the case of taxable income, the IRS is clear: whether or not the taxpayer takes the money, so long as it's been made available to him, it becomes taxable.

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