Who Pays for the Expenses of the US President?

by Chip Marsden
Even during a leisurely round of golf, the presidential office demands vigilant and costly support and protection.

With great power comes great expense. Just ask the American president. According to a congressional report, the cost of operating Air Force One (the president’s private plane) is nearly $180,000 per hour, and that’s just basic air transportation. Given the extraordinary expenses of the presidency, it’s reasonable to wonder who pays the bill.

Official Business

As a rule of thumb, taxpayers are directly responsible for any presidential expense occurred in the course of official government business. A trip aboard Air Force One to meet with the English prime minister, for instance, would be government funded, as would a state dinner. Additionally, the salaries of personnel responsible for supporting and protecting the president, or for maintaining the operations of White House, are considered official expenses.

Vacation Time

Presidents frequently take vacations, and use official means of transportation to do so. On vacation, presidents generally pay for their own lodging, food and incidental items. However, the government pays for transportation, security, as well the expenses of support staff.

Expense Account

Every president since 1949 has received a $50,000-per-year expense account that can be used for expenses ranging from clothing to personal grooming to personal meetings that may fall outside of strictly official business.

Life in the White House

Though the president and his family aren’t charged rent while living in the White House, they are not without expenses. Personal groceries, food prepared by White House cooks, toiletries and services like dry cleaning are billed to the president.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Chip Marsden has been a writer for more than eight years. He has covered film, politics and culture for regional newspapers and online publications. Marsden holds a B.A. in theater arts with a concentration in performance.

Photo Credits

  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images