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Mar 14, 2017

The Guardian | World | U.S.: Donald Trump Tax Reurns: President paid $38m in 2005, Leaked Document Reveals - as it Happened.
Julia Carrie Wong

Analysis: is Trump behind the leak?


Trump's tax returns

MSNBC has published the two-page document. Here’s some quick analysis from Guardian business reporter Sam Thielman:
David Cay Johnston opened his interview on the Maddow show by questioning whether Trump might have leaked the returns himself; if he did, he could hardly have chosen a better document. The 1040, with no schedules attached to elucidate the way Trump’s vast empire of holdings breaks down, states merely that Trump paid $38m in taxes for the year 2005 – the very earliest year he’d have disclosed, had he released his taxes the way every president post-Nixon has customarily done.
For that year, the $38m Trump appears to have paid to the federal government works out to a 25% effective rate - in 2005, the very highest tax bracket was only 35%, and capital gains were still 15%. It could easily be the year he paid the absolute most in taxes. The taxes themselves say “client copy” on them, so whoever sent them to Johnston had access to Trump’s personal files, rather than those belonging to his accountant or the Internal Revenue Service.

What is the alternative minimum tax?

Trump’s tax returns reveal that he paid $5.3m in federal income tax and an additional $31m in the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.
The alternative minimum tax was created in 1969 (and amended in 1979) to address the fact that some of the uber-wealthy could use so many deductions and loopholes that they ended up paying zero federal income tax. People with high incomes have to calculate their taxes twice – once with all their deductions and once without many of them. The taxpayer must then pay the higher of the two figures.
The gap between those two figures can be enormous – as is made clear by these Trump tax returns, which show Trump would have paid just $5.3m without the AMT.
“If we didn’t have the alternative minimum tax, he would have paid taxes at a lower rate than the poor who make less than $33,000 a year,” David Cay Johnston said on MSNBC about the returns.
Though the AMT was applied to just a few hundred wealthy individuals when it was first imposed, today it hits almost 5m taxpayers.
Trump promised to repeal the AMT in his campaign tax proposal.

David Cay Johnston got tax return in the mail

Some background on David Cay Johnston, the reporter who obtained the records, who has previously written for the Guardian:
A Pulitzer Prize winner for his reporting on the US tax code, Johnston has doggedly pursued Trump’s business dealings for decades. In July 2016, he published The Making of Donald Trump, which documents the life and career of the man Johnston describes as “just a conman”.
Writing in the Guardian last month, Johnston described his frustration with a US news media that was so distracted by Trump’s showmanship that it failed to report on Trump’s “profitable, lifelong embrace of mobsters, violent felons, Russian oligarchs and … a drug trafficker to whom Trump remained loyal despite his indictment”.
“Concerned that Trump might win, I tried to alert people to what a fraud Trump is. His June 2015 announcement that he would run for president was itself a fraud – the applause that interrupted him 43 times was provided by paid actors,” he wrote.

White House: Trump paid $38m in taxes

We’re live-blogging Rachel Maddow’s show tonight where the MSNBC host has promised revelations on Trump’s tax returns.
Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow)
BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.
March 14, 2017
The White House preemptively criticized the Maddow show before it aired, releasing a statement claiming Trump paid $38m in taxes on an income of more than $150m. The statement said he also paid “tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes”.
Here’s the full statement from a Trump administration official:
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.
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. 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 dollars, as well as paying 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. Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. 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.
Maddow also tweeted before the show: “What we’ve got is from 2005... the President’s 1040 form... details to come tonight 9PM ET, MSNBC.” The report comes from David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and Daily Beast columnist.