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This latest sparkling object is distracting us from the Obamacare repeal

The whole Obamacare repeal, which at last check was starting to fall apart because of the CBO report, is suddenly back page this morning because, just as happened during the campaign, we have a brand new sparkling object to look at: An apparently genuine Donald Trump tax return.

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The forms showed up in the mailbox of investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, who knew exactly who should unveil them on television.

“What I have here is a copy of Donald Trump’s tax returns,” said MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “We have his federal tax return for one year, for 2005. I believe this is the only set of the president’s federal taxes that reporters have ever gotten ahold of.”

Maddow spent last night’s show going over them and in what might be a disappointment to those who predicted that the president paid nothing, Trump actually did pay taxes in 2005.

“These pages are straightforward,” Maddow said.” He paid, looks like $38 million in taxes. He took a big write-down of $103 million – more on that later. If you add up the lines for income, he made more than $150 million in that year – Mazel Tov.”

The White House is quick to say, yes, the return is real. And David Kay Johnston himself is not a bit surprised they would own up to it because: “It’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me. Donald Trump has over the years leaked all sorts of things. The very sleazy girl-on-girl pictures of the First Lady in the New York Post may have come from Donald. The front pages of the state tax returns that we had that were sent to the New York Times and the New York Daily News last fall may have come from Donald. Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interest.”

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But, again, no proof that Trump leaked this. The news that Johnston sees in the return, is that if it were not for the alternative minimum tax, President Trump would have paid a fraction of what he did in 2005.

“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,” Johnston said.

If you’re keeping score at home, here’s how it breaks out: Without the AMT, instead of paying a tax rate in 2005 of about 24 percent, Trump would have paid a tax rate of 3.5 percent, or about $5 million, depending on whether you count the self-employment tax. And that’s because he had write-offs totaling $103 million.

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