Donald Trump made a lot of money and paid millions in taxes in 2005, a much-hyped leak revealed Tuesday night, making the president’s decision to conceal his tax returns all the more puzzling.
The documents also show that a tax change Trump advocates — abolishing the Alternative Minimum Tax — would have saved him $31 million that year.
The White House on Tuesday confirmed that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of about $150 million in 2005, just minutes before MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was set to release a leaked portion of his tax returns for that year.
The information released by the White House matched the numbers disclosed from the forms on Maddow’s show, and showed Trump paid an effective tax rate of about 24%.
The White House criticized MSNBC for airing the document, calling it “desperate for ratings” and pointing out the returns were from “over a decade ago.”
The statement also defended the amount of taxes paid by Trump in 2005.
“Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement read.
The White House also accused MSNBC of illegally disclosing the tax information.
“It is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns,” the statement read.
Maddow rejected the assertion the show was illegally disclosing the information.
“For the record, the First Amendment gives us the right to publish this return,” she said. “It’s not illegally published. Nor are we fake. Pinch me, I’m real.”
The Democratic National Committee blasted the White House for selectively releasing some of the president’s tax information but not the entirety of his tax returns, alleging that they would show connections to “Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin.”
“The White House’s willingness to release some tax information when it suits them proves Donald Trump’s audit excuse is a sham,” Zac Petkanas, DNC senior adviser, said in a statement. “If they can release some of the information, they can release all of the information.”
Despite the leaked report and scathing criticism from the White House, at least one member of the Trump clan seemed to take the MSNBC report in stride.
Donald Trump Jr. followed up with a tweet using the hashtag #ThankYouMaddow.
The tax return, Maddow said, was mailed to journalist David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter whose work has focused on economics and taxes.
“This is the first time that we have any federal tax returns for Donald Trump have been obtained by anyone, certainly by any news organization,” Maddow said.
The documents from 2005 indicate that the president paid a tax rate of about 24%. According to the Associated Press, which cited the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, that would have been higher than the 10% paid by the average American, but lower than the 27.4% paid by people who earn $1 million a year.
Other key points of information that can be obtained from tax returns, such as charitable donations or financial connections, could not be determined from the two pages leaked to MSNBC.
Johnston said on the show that the tax returns were sent to him via the mail.
Asked for the source of the documents, Johnston said he did not know and suggested it could have been leaked by anyone, including the president himself.
“It’s totally possible that Donald sent this to me,” he said. “I feel I have to include that in the possibilities of where it came from.”
Trump has refused to release any details about his tax returns, claiming an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service. His 2005 filing is the most recent information about the president’s complex finances.
Trump, who has amassed a fortune from his career in real estate, reported a loss of $916 million for 1995, more than 20 years before he began his successful bid for the White House, the New York Times has reported.
Tax experts told the Times Trump would have been able to use that loss to cancel any taxable income for the following 18 years, including income he would have been paid for each episode of NBC’s The Apprentice.
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