White House: Trump paid $38 million in income tax in 2005

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump paid $38 million in taxes on income of more than $150 million in 2005, the White House confirmed on Tuesday.

Trump made a “large-scale” write-off for construction losses in 2005, the White House said, in response to questions about a partial disclosure of his tax return from that year.

He also paid “millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes,” an official said, without giving further details.

The White House published its statement just before material from Trump’s 2005 tax return was disclosed by journalist David Cay Johnston on his website and on MSNBC.

The White House said the publication was illegal. “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 official said Tuesday. Trump, himself, weighed in on the matter Wednesday morning, tweeting, “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”

What the disclosure shows

The information was based on two pages of an IRS 1040 form supplied anonymously to Johnston. The information was partial — it did not give a full picture even for 2005.

“The release of the top pages of Trump’s 2005 tax return is a useful start, but is a drop in the disclosure bucket of what Trump owes the American people,” Edward Kleinbard, the Johnson Professor of Law and Business at USC Gould School of Law and a former chief of staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation, told CNNMoney.

Kleinbard said that the disclosures gave no indication about any business links between Trump and Russia.

“Only complete returns can resolve the questions swirling around his alleged financial obligations and sources of income, such as Russian oligarchs or other sovereign countries,” Kleinbard said.

Pressure for full tax disclosure

Trump had promised during the presidential campaign to release his returns — which every presidential nominee in modern times has made into a precedent — after the conclusion of a routine audit, but the White House has not spelled out when exactly that would be.

More recently, aides have suggested that since he won the election, he would not release his returns.

Democrats noted that the revelation served to demonstrate that the White House could disclose the President’s tax information if it wanted to.

“The only news out of this is that the White House CAN release the President’s taxes, despite what campaign said,” Mo Elleithee, a longtime Democratic operative, wrote on Twitter. “Which we all suspected.”

In October, The New York Times obtained a single year’s return anonymously that showed that Trump declared a $916 million loss and lists tax benefits he used after a turbulent financial period for him in the early 1990s.

The paper, citing tax experts, said Trump could have used his loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income for nearly two decades.