US news organisation MSNBC has obtained President Donald Trump’s tax return, and have released it in a sensational report.
The 1040 form the network obtained, and Rachel Maddow released on her MSNBC show, refers to the standard federal income tax form used to report an individual’s gross income.
After Maddow announced the upcoming report, but before the program aired, The White House released a statement that said Mr Trump paid US$38 million in taxes on an income of US$150 million in 2005. Those figures lined up with what MSNBC reported.
Mr Trump’s return was provided to the MSNBC by journalist David Cay Johnston, who said the two page report was left in his mailbox. On an electronic copy of the return published by NBC, the stamp ’Client Copy’ can be clearly seen.
Based on the documents obtained by Johnston, Trump paid $36.5 million in taxes on $153 million in income, for an effective tax rate of around 24 percent. Johnston said the difference between that he reported and The White House announced was an error on their part. That percentage is higher than the roughly 10 percent the average American pays each year — but below the 27.4 percent that taxpayers earning 1 million dollars a year average, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
Johnston runs the website DCreport.org. The website crashed in the wake of the release of the tax return.
The White House took aim at MSNBC over the report.
“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,” the White House statement read.
“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.
“Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns.”
But Maddow hit back claiming she was protected under the First Amendment.
“It is not illegal,” she said.
President Trump has repeatedly said he would not release his personal tax details, claiming he was unable to do so because of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS, however, says there is no reason why he cannot make his own details public.
President Trump’s tax returns have been of renewed interest in recent weeks as they may reveal the extent of his financial ties to Russia.
An IRS Tax Form 1040 (US Individual Income Tax Return) is the standard federal income taxform used to report an individual’s gross income (e.g., money, goods, property, and services). It is also known as “the long form” because it is more extensive than the shorter 1040A and 1040EZ TaxForms.
President Trump deducted US$39.1 million (AU$51.71 million) from his 2005 federal income taxes by saying he would not build houses on a New Jersey golf course he owns, according to public records, as revealed last year in The Wall Street Journal.
The year 2005 was a pivotal one for America’s new president. It was his second year at the helm of the The Apprentice, the show that turned him into a global reality TV superstar. It was also the year he married his third and current wife, Melania.
According to The Daily Beast Mr Trump sold two properties in 2005, one in Manhattan and one in San Francisco, to Hong Kong investors that constituted the majority of his income that year.
Rachel Maddow has been hosting her own eponymous show on MSNBC since 2008, and has picked up an Emmy alongside many other awards. The 43-year-old anchor — who has previously described herself as “undoubtedly a liberal” has become a target for conservative critics, who have slammed her as a “far left” partisan.
David Cay Johnston, 68, is an investigative journalist reporting on tax issues and an author. He won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting, for a report in The New York Times on loopholes and inequalities in the US tax code that illustrated the low tax rates many major companies were paying. His reporting resulted in a number of reforms.
Johnston has lectured at the Syracuse University College of Law and at the Whitman School of Management.
In 2016 his best-selling book The Making of Donald Trump was released. According to reports Johnston has known President Trump for 28 years.
President Trump is the first Presidential candidate from either the Democrats or Republicans not to throw open his financial records to the public since 1976. A poll in January revealed 74 per cent of US voters felt he should have done so.
The custom of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns began in 1968 with George Romney. Mr Romney made his returns public, while getting ready to run against Lydon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
In contrast Mr Nixon refused to make his financial affairs public. In 1972 Mr Nixon again declined to release his tax returns. In 1973, the Internal Revenue Service audited President Nixon, which lead to his famous remark.
“I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I have got.”
The IRS ordered Nixon to pay more than US$400,000 (A$529,000) in back taxes for making improper deductions.
In 1974 the Watergate scandal led to Mr Nixon’s resignation, but new President Gerald Ford did not release his full returns, instead making public a summation.
In 1978 the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 was passed. The Act requires all Presidential and vice-Presidential candidates to file a Public Disclosure Report with the Federal Election Commission. The system aims to prevent financial conflicts of interest.
Former President Barack Obama and ex vice-President Joe Biden were found to have no conflicts of interest.