Tax Returns Offer a Glimpse at Obama's Newfound Wealth

Obama's tax returns also show links to Rev. Wright and fundraiser Rezko.

March 26, 2008— -- Newly released tax returns offer a glimpse into Barack Obama's transformation from a state senator making a household income of less than $250,000 just three years ago into a millionaire U.S. senator and best-selling author.

The Obamas' jointly filed tax returns from 2000 to 2006, released by the campaign Tuesday, show that Obama made a total of $1.6 million in 2005 and 2006 as the author of the best-selling "Dreams of My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

As the Obamas' income increased, so did their charitable giving. The Obamas claimed a total of $137,622 in charitable deductions in 2005 and 2006, a significant increase from the $6,900 total in the three previous years. The donations included a total of $27,500 to Trinity United Church of Christ in 2005 and 2006, according to a summary sheet released by the campaign. The church's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has become a source of controversy for Obama.

The windfall from the senator's book advance and royalties allowed the couple to purchase their current home on Chicago's South Side, but it was apparently not enough for them to buy an adjacent lot that the seller wanted to make a part of the deal. That deal would, ironically, become the focal point for scrutiny of Obama's relationship with the indicted political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Obama approached Rezko, then implicated in an ongoing federal grand jury investigation, for advice on the deal because "it was already a stretch to buy the house," he later told the Chicago Tribune. Rezko's wife eventually bought the lot and sold a strip back to the Obamas to extend their yard. Obama later called his decision to involve Rezko in the deal "a bone-headed mistake."

When asked to comment on Obama's release of the tax returns yesterday, Sen. Hillary Clinton said she was pleased to see Obama release his returns and said it was "a good first step." Clinton, however, continues to stall the release of any of her returns and said she hopes to release them "shortly."

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has not released his returns either.

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