The debacle over President Trump's leaked tax return from 2005 continues to grow as claims arise that he leaked it himself.
Even though Trump called it 'fake news' on his Twitter account on Wednesday morning at 6.55 am, a theory emerged in the media that he may have leaked it himself, since it shows that he behaved in a financially honest way.
The journalist who had the leaked tax returns, #David Cay Johnston, said on Twitter that he thought Trump had leaked it too, and received death threats from Trump supporters, highlighting how the President has influenced the tone of public debate since he got in.
Johnston wrote: 'Trump fans call & harass my wife & 1 of my children after I break story #White House confirmed. Sad! Let's have open debate, not threats'
The #tax return profiles how Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on a certified income of $152.7 million, which means he paid a tax rate of 24 percent – and not the 25 percent incorrectly reported by The New York Times. The forms were disclosed on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, and detailed how the president avoided paying millions more dollars in taxes by claiming losses.
How the White House responded
The #White House responded before the show went to air, with a statement that seemed to corroborate the veracity of the forms whilst it criticized MSNBC for making the tax returns public.
“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,” the White House official statement said.
The #White House called the claimed losses a “large-scale depreciation for construction,” and didn't say anything else on the matter. They also claimed that Trump paid “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.”
Johnston responded to this with a Tweet that read: 'Trump WH confirms my report, but fakes numbers. Trump paid $36.5m income tax, not $38 & not $40m Don Jr. claims. False WH statements. Sad!'
Refusal to release is not presidential
Trump's refusing to make his taxes public earlier in the election cycle earned him scorn from critics, since its customary for presidential candidates to do so. This has been one in a long chain of issues that has seen the new president not honoring the traditions of the Oval Office.
Trump's critics continued to demand his tax return, claiming it may help clarify his involvement with Russian business interests, which in turn would shed light on the supposed Russian interference in the election.
Nothing in the tax return aired on Tuesday night implied any possible ties with Russia. And neither did the leak give any new information on Trump's businesses. This led many in the media and in Washington to think the President leaked it himself, something he has done many times before in his long and public career as a business man gracing the social pages.
The 'alternative minimum tax' that he wants to abolish
The main portion of the federal income taxes he paid in 2005, which was $31 million, was remunerated under something called the #Alternative Minimum Tax, which Trump now wants to abolish. This tax item operates as a back up to the normal income tax and is meant to deter wealthy Americans from paying zero income tax. Without this, Trump would have paid only around the $5 million mark in regular taxes, and an additional $2 million in self-employment taxes, on a grand total of $153 million in income.