Since before the 2016 presidential election, one of the main sticking points regarding Donald Trump becoming President of the United States has been the release of his tax returns, something that candidates for the office have done at least since Jimmy Carter ran for the Oval Office.
But President Trump has refused to release his returns, saying he would release them once the IRS completes an audit of them. But on Tuesday night, MSNBC announced that they had gotten access to Trump’s 2005 returns — two pages of 1040 forms, which came to Washington watchdog website dcreport.org through a leak, according to its founder, investigative journalist David Cay Johnston.
He outlined why the finding of his tax returns is worth paying such close attention to.
“What’s most important about this tax return,” Johnston told MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow, “is that under the regular tax system — and we have two tax systems…the regular tax system and the alternative minimum tax– if we didn’t have the alternative minimum tax and Donald Trump, in writing, wants to end the alternative minimum tax, he would have paid taxes at a lower rate than the bottom half of taxpayers, the poor in this country who make less than $33,000.”
Although it has been guarded about Trump’s tax returns, the White House did acknowledge that Trump paid $38 million in 2005 after earning $150 million in income, with a tax rate of 25 percent and had a write down of $105 million. This means he saved millions of dollars that he would have owed otherwise.
The returns are not his most recent, but they are significant because last fall The New York Times reported Trump claimed a $916 million loss in 1995, meaning he was able to avoid paying taxes for years. So many have been interested in exactly what Trump has paid, what he has been claiming as a loss, how much he has said was given to charity, and how much of this income from his billion dollar companies he has avoided paying taxes on, or paid at a lower rate than what would be fair for a person of his wealth.
But the White House balked at the notion that Trump has not been paying taxes fairly. In a statement it said: “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.”
During last year’s presidential debates, Hillary Clinton pressed Trump about releasing the returns, accusing him of not paying federal taxes at all, to which he replied: “That makes me smart.”