Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow released a leaked, but authenticated by the White House itself, two page portion of President Trump’s tax return from 2005. The tax returns were originally obtained by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist.
The returns, stamped with the words “Client Copy,” showed that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of over $150 million in 2005. Maddow indicated that more tax returns may also be obtained and released in the future.
The White house released the following statement: “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…Despite his 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.”
But will it? During his presidential campaign, Trump proposed cutting taxes such as the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) and reducing the current tax brackets to the following four: 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. The main beneficiaries of this tax reform plan would be the extremely wealthy.
Trump is also the only president to date who has refused to release his tax returns, claiming they are still under audit. Naturally, the opposition sees this refusal or delaying tactic as an admission of guilt of some kind or another.
Perhaps most importantly, concerns are growing over Trump’s ties with Russia, and the public, contrary to Trump’s claims, has wanted to and does want to see his tax returns.
While the White House has tried to emphasize that the documents were illegally obtained and released, it has also been speculated that Trump himself leaked the tax returns, perhaps specifically choosing 2005 in order to benefit his own image and decrease the public’s need to see further (more recent and more incriminating) tax returns.
At the end of the day, these released documents, while important, can’t distract us from Trump’s healthcare reforms which are underway. In fact, it should be noted that the two are connected; tax cuts for the rich are potentially being paid for by taking away health care from 20-something million Americans, and this is something worth being concerned about.