President Barack Obama plans to return five percent of his presidential salary as a conciliatory gesture to federal employees facing furloughs as a result of budget cuts.
"The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury," an unnamed White House aide told ABC News.
Obama earns $400,000 a year as president, so the amount he will return to government coffers will be a modest $20,000.
A spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday he also intends to return part of his salary since the Pentagon plans to ask many of its 800,000 civilian employees to take 14 furlough days without pay as a cost-cutting measure. Hagel's spokesman said he plans to return $10,750, the equivalent of 14 days of pay.
Obama's presidential salary is supplemented by sales of his books "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams from My Father." His 2011 tax returns indicated that he earned nearly $400,000 from book sales that year, approximately $1 million less than he earned the year before. In 2008, Obama earned $2.5 million in book royalties, the Washington Post reported.
Last year Forbes estimated the first family's net worth at $6 million. The Obamas enjoy free lodging, security and transportation courtesy of taxpayers.
Returning money to the government has traditionally been a way for Republican lawmakers to call attention to what they deem excessive federal spending. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky returned $600,000 in unused office operating funds in Feburary and gave back $500,000 the year before.