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Trump tax returns surface, but real or not?

PRESIDENT Donald Trump earned US$153 million and paid US$36.5 million in income taxes in 2005, paying a roughly 25 percent effective tax rate thanks to a tax he has since sought to eliminate, according to newly disclosed tax documents.

The pages from Trump’s federal tax return show the then-real estate mogul also reported a business loss of US$103 million that year, although the documents don’t provide details.

The forms show that Trump paid an effective tax rate of 24.5 percent, a figure well above the roughly 10 percent the average American taxpayer forks over each year, but below the 27.4 percent that taxpayers earning 1 million dollars a year average were paying at the time, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The tax form was obtained by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who runs a website called DCReport.org, and reported on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Johnston, who has long reported on tax issues, said he received the documents in the mail, unsolicited.

Trump took to Twitter early yesterday to cast doubt on Johnston’s revelations.

“Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”

Johnston, speaking to ABC’s “Good Morning America” yesterday, said it’s entirely possible that he received the returns from Trump himself or someone close to him, saying, “Donald has a long history of leaking things about himself.”

He noted that the real question remains the sources of Trump’s income, saying Trump doesn’t want us to know “who he’s beholden to.”

Trump’s hefty business loss appears to be a continued benefit from his use of a tax loophole in the 1990s, which allowed him to deduct previous losses in future years. In 1995, Trump reported a loss of more than US$900 million, largely as a result of financial turmoil at his casinos.

Tax records obtained by The New York Times last year showed the losses were so large they could have allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years.

But Trump’s 2005 filing shows that another tax prevented him from realizing the full benefit of those deductions.

The bulk of Trump’s tax bill that year was due to the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax aimed at preventing high-income earners from paying minimal taxes.

The AMT requires many taxpayers to calculate their taxes twice — once under the rules for regular income tax and then again under AMT — and then pay the higher amount. Critics say the tax has ensnared more middle-class people than intended, raising what they owe the federal government each year.

Were it not for the AMT, Trump would have avoided all but a few million dollars of his 2005 tax bill.


 

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