A tax return leak shows that President Donald Trump paid $38m in tax on an income of more than $150m in 2005.
The revealed documents, two pages of tax return leaked by U.S. TV network MSNBC, triggered an angry response from the White House, which said that publication of tax return was illegal.
Breaking the long-held tradition, Donald Trump refused to release his tax return during the election campaign.
The leaked two pages are only a fraction of the complete return and don’t include detailed information on Mr. Trump’s income.
The leaks are still significant because so little is known about Mr. Trump’s tax returns and pressure can be put on him to release more information.
The document shows that Mr. Trump paid $5.3m in federal income tax and an additional $31m in Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
AMT was set up almost five decades ago to restrict the wealthiest people from using loopholes and deductions to avoid paying the taxes.
The $38m tax paid was at an effective tax rate of 24%, although higher than what an average American citizen would pay but lower than the 27.4% average paid by higher-earning taxpayers.
MSCNC host Rachel Maddow said that it was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest; leaking federal tax returns is a criminal offense.
The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, who was interviewed on MSNBC, said that he received the documents from an anonymous source.
The White House said in a statement just before the broadcast:
“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.”
It also said that Mr. Trump didn’t have a responsibility to pay more taxes than was legally required.
Although there is no law requiring presidential hopeful to release their tax returns, every U.S. presidential candidate has released the tax returns since 1976.
During one of the presidential debate, Hillary Clinton speculated that there was something suspicious behind Mr. Trump not releasing his tax return. She also said that it is quite possible that Mr. Trump didn’t pay any tax returns to which Mr. Trump famously responded: “That makes me smart.”
The New York Times revealed part of Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns last October; it showed losses amounting to $916m.
Analysts said that Mr. Trump could have avoided paying income tax for up to 18 years after that.