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‘Millie’s Book’ Makes First Lady the Big Breadwinner

April 16, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Barbara Bush describes herself as merely a housewife but last year she earned more than four times what George Bush was paid as president.

The first family’s income soared to $1.3 million on the strength of $889,176 received by Mrs. Bush for her bestseller, ″Millie’s Book,″ purporting to describe life at the White House through the eyes of her pet spaniel.

But it was a short-lived windfall. The first lady gave it all away - $789,176 after taxes - to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

Altogether, the Bushes gave $818,803 to 48 charities last year. The donations helped reduce last year’s bill for federal income taxes to $204,841 - 15 percent of their adjusted gross income of $1,324,456.

In 1990, the first family’s income was $452,732 on which they paid $99,241 in taxes, about 22 percent of their earnings.

Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, released returns reporting payment of $45,271 in taxes last year on income of $181,652.

The Bushes escaped payment of substantial state taxes by claiming their home as being in Texas, which has no income tax or capital gains taxes. By law they are exempt from local taxes of the District of Columbia. They paid $4,190 to unspecified states based on earnings from their blind trust.

If they had elected to declare themselves residents of Maine, where they maintain a summer home and spent 40 days last year, they would have owed a state income tax of $59,000, according to a calculation by Money Magazine.

The Bushes were returning to Maine today for a long weekend holiday. It will be the president’s first look at repairs on his Kennebunkport home after a severe storm last year caused damages estimated by the White House at $300,000 to $400,000.

Bush did not claim any tax loss from the damage although he was entitled to do so, White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said.

Some of the losses were covered by insurance obtained through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but Fitzwater said repairs exceeded the insurance coverage. He said Bush decided to forgo a tax-loss claim since he already was collecting federally financed insurance.

″He was assured that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it and was urged to do it by his legal and financial advisors but he just chose not to do it since it’s not worth it,″ Fitzwater said.

Aside from his White House salary of $200,000, Bush and his wife reported $197,047 in income from a blind trust containing holdings dating from his days as a Texas oilman. They also reported $1,151 in interest and $1,359 from other sources.

Bush’s income included $2,718 he earned from his autobiography, ″Looking Forward.″ Half the money went to his literary agent.

Commenting on the overwhelming preference for Mrs. Bush’s book over the president’s, Fitzwater said jokingly, ″This is somewhat embarrassing, but the president’s taking it very well.″

Despite the president’s opposition to federal financing of congressional campaigns, both Bush and his wife earmarked $1 of their taxes for a presidential campaign fund that will give him $55.2 million for the general election.

Although they made charitable contributions of $818,803, their deduction was limited to $662,228 because federal law restricts such savings to 50 percent of adjusted gross income. As a result, the Bushes were left with a $156,575 carryover that can be taken over the next five years.

The government withheld $66,034 last year from Bush’s paycheck, and the first family sent in an additional $145,000 in estimated tax payments, for a total of $211,034. With a tax liability of $204,841, they were entitled to a $6,193 refund but chose to apply it to their 1992 taxes.

The Quayles’ income included $28,875 in rent from a house they own in McLean, Va., and dividend income of $13,207, as well as $11,905 that Mrs. Quayle earned from her partnership with her sister in writing a novel. It also included dividends of $1,087 from stocks in several companies that Mrs. Quayle inherited from an aunt who died last year.

The companies included several with interest in the activities of the Council on Competitiveness, which Quayle chairs. Among them were Eli Lilly, which stands to benefit from the administration’s plan to streamline drug approval procedures, and Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., which have strong interest in the council’s work to thwart regulatory measures that would be costly to the automakers.

David Beckwith, the press secretary for the vice president, said Mrs. Quayle was seeking professional advice ″about what to do about the situation.″

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