The White House acknowledged late Tuesday that Donald Trump paid $38 million in taxes in 2005, a rare view into the president’s jealously guarded finances that were leaked to the US media.
Trump reported an income of $150 million, and paid an overall tax rate of around 25 percent. But the leaked summary document does not show the sources of his income, which would confirm or deny allegations of controversial ties with Russian businesses.
The White House confirmed the details of Trump’s 2005 taxes just before David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, and MSNBC said they would reveal the short filing.
Trump has refused to release his full tax returns since he began his quest for the US presidency, shattering decades of tradition among candidates of all political parties.
Trump also wrote off more than $100 million in business losses to reduce his tax burden, the document shows. The White House described it as a “large-scale depreciation for construction.”
The two-page snapshot was broadly favourable to the White House and appeared to back up Trump’s claim that he paid his fair share of taxes, and no more.
“The documents show Trump and his wife Melania paying $5.3 million in regular federal income tax — a rate of less than four percent,” Johnston wrote in a post on the Daily Beast website.
“However, the Trumps paid an additional $31 million in the so-called ‘alternative minimum tax,’ or AMT.”
The AMT was originally designed to prevent rich taxpayers from using excessive loopholes, and Trump has previously called for its elimination.
– Mystery leaker –
Appearing on MSNBC with center-left commentator Rachel Maddow, Johnston said that he did not know the source of the leaked return, which had been placed in his mailbox.
“Let me point out it’s entirely possible Donald sent this to me,” he said. “Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interests.”
Donald Trump Jr. was quick to claim victory over those who speculated his dad paid no taxes.
“I don’t know much, but if I recall correctly $38,000,000 is a lot more than $0… right???” he wrote on Twitter.
The president has claimed, without evidence, that he would not release his taxes because he is under an Internal Revenue Service audit, and that US voters do not care.
The IRS has not confirmed that he is being audited — and even if he were, there is a precedent: President Richard Nixon released his taxes in 1973 while he was being audited.
And a recent Langer Research poll showed that almost three-quarters of Americans believe Trump should release his tax returns.
While campaigning for president Trump said that if elected he would release his taxes, but once in office he backpedalled.
In a statement, the Democratic National Committee slammed Trump’s “audit excuse” as a “sham.”
“If they can release some of the information, they can release all of the information,” Zac Petkanas, a senior adviser to the DNC, said.
“The only reason not to release his returns is to hide what’s in them, such as financial connections with Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin,” he said, offering no evidence.
– On the attack –
The White House bashed media outlets for publishing the return even as it confirmed its authenticity and key figures.
“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,” an administration official said.
Trump paid “no more tax than legally required,” said the official, who refused to be identified.
“That being said, Mr. Trump paid 38 million dollars even after taking into account large-scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million.”
The official said that Trump also paid “tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes, and this illegally published return proves just that.”
“The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the president will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans,” the official said.
In October, before Trump was elected, The New York Times published three pages of Trump’s leaked 1995 tax returns. Those returns showed a $916 million deduction that, according to IRS rules, could have resulted in Trump legally paying no taxes for up to 18 years.