Parts of Donald Trump’s 2005 federal tax returns were made public on Tuesday night, revealing that the president made $150 million that year and paid $38 million in taxes.
Two pages of the tax document were obtained by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, and he first reported about it Tuesday evening on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" hosted by Rachel Maddow.
“This document has been made available,” Maddow said. “That may be the most important part of this story.” She also stressed that the release raises questions about the president’s argument that he can’t release his tax returns because he is under audit.
The revelation provides the most recent glimpse at Trump's income. Last fall, the New York Times reported that Trump reported a massive $916 million loss in 1995, which enabled him to avoid paying income taxes for decades.
Trump repeatedly has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with four decades of tradition for presidential nominees, claiming that he has been under audit.
Their release comes after months of calls for the president to make his tax returns public.
"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 statement said. It added that Trump, as "one of the most successful businessmen in the world," paid "no more tax than legally required."
The statement went on to say: "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."
The return obtained by Johnston shows Trump and wife Melania paid about $5.3 million in regular federal income taxes and another $31 million in "alternative minimum tax," a supplemental tax designed to cut down on filers with excessive deductions.
Taxpayers requesting many itemized deductions must pay the AMT in certain circumstances. The AMT rejects specific deductions, including for dependents and assorted real-estate write-downs. In his tax-reform plan, Trump has called for eliminating the AMT.
Trump's current finances are set to face a new test with the coming of 15 April tax deadline. He has steadfastly refused to release his returns, pointing both to ongoing audits and to his belief that Americans do not care to see them. However, a Pew Research Center survey in January found that 60 percent of Americans believe Trump has a responsibility to release his returns.
All U.S. presidents are automatically audited every year, as prescribed by a guideline in the Internal Revenue Service manual in place for presidents and vice presidents since the 1970s. Trump could break with that tradition by urging Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to call for a change to the practice, legal experts said. Trump has not said whether he would follow the tradition of the annual audit.
The statement, issued to reporters anonymously to be attributed to a White House spokesperson, accused MSNBC of unlawfully releasing Trump's tax returns.
At the first presidential debate, Clinton accused Trump of not releasing his tax returns because they would show how little taxes he paid. “That makes me smart,” Trump replied.