Presidential Tax Leak: What Trump's 2005 Tax Returns Reveal
The White House on Tuesday reported that the president of the United States paid $38 million in taxes on an income of $150 million in his 2005 tax return.
On her Tuesday night show, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow revealed two pages of Donald Trump's tax return, giving no details on income sources or of charitable giving. The document shows him paying roughly $38 million in taxes on $150 million in income that year. She credited David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Daily Beast columnist, with obtaining the documents through an anonymous source in his mailbox.
Fueling the speculation was Trump’s break with tradition during the presidential campaign, when he became the first candidate since the Watergate era to not release his personal tax returns. As reported in The Atlantic, a recent poll found that 74 percent of Americans want him to release them, but Trump frequently cited an ongoing IRS audit as his reason to not make them public. (The IRS said that’s not an impediment to their release.)
Indeed, Donald Trump’s leaked tax return reveals that about 82% of the total paid to the Internal Revenue Service that year by Trump and his wife, Melania, was incurred due to a tax that Trump has said should be abolished.
The “alternative minimum tax” (AMT), which was introduced to ensure the mega wealthy pay a fairer share of tax, comprised $31m of Trump’s tax bill compared to $5.3m in regular federal income tax, as reported in The Guardian. In the run-up to November’s election, Trump pledged to eliminate the AMT altogether, meaning the president campaigned for a change in the tax law that would have benefited him.
AMT was set up nearly 50 years ago to stop the wealthiest people from using deductions and loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
The publication of the paperwork prompted immediate condemnation from the White House, which accused MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow of breaking the law and preemptively released figures from the same year.
“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” a Trump administration official said in a statement.
Although leaking federal tax returns is a criminal offence, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued that it was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest.
Journalist David Cay Johnston, interviewed on MSNBC, said he had received the documents in the post from an anonymous source.
According to the CNN, Democrats urged one another not to get distracted by Trump's taxes.
Though Democrats have long coveted Trump's tax returns, which the candidate and now president has refused to release, a cadre of Democratic operatives and lawmakers stressed the need to focus on the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, which the Congressional Budget Office says would cause millions to lose health insurance, lead to higher premiums in the short-term and decrease the amount spent on Medicaid.
"Message: tax cuts for the rich paid for by taking health care away from 24M people > tax returns," Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama tweeted.