The president’s pay is decided by Congress, but under Article II of the Constitution, it cannot be altered while he is serving the term for which he was elected.
The president’s pay was last raised by Congress in 2001, just before George W. Bush assumed office.
Currently, President Biden earns $400,000 annually. Title 3 of the U.S. Code, excludes a $50,000 “expense allowance,” $100,000 for travel expenses, and other entertainment allowances.
Even though George Washington only got $25,000 a year, for instance, it may appear that earlier presidents didn’t earn nearly as much as our current presidents; nevertheless, when accounting for inflation, earlier heads of state were in fact fairly rewarded.
The first president was paid $25,000, which, according to an inflation calculator on officialdata.org, would be $798,715.91 in 2022.
In 1873, Congress for the first time increased the president’s pay to a maximum of $50,000 annually. According to the inflation calculator, that would be around $1.17 million in today’s dollars.
The president’s pay was again increased to $75,000 per year, or $2.3 million in today’s dollars, in 1909. The president made $100,000 per year, or $1.18 million now, forty years later in 1949.
Congress increased the president’s pay to $200,000 by 1969, or around $1.5 million today. The highest recent rise for the president was up to $400,000 in 2001.
In the 230 years after George Washington first assumed office, Congress has raised the president’s pay a total of five times.
Here are the salaries earned by each of the 46 U.S. presidents throughout their terms in office, excluding any potential other sources of income.