The White House said Tuesday night that Donald Trump paid $38 million in federal taxes on income of more than $150 million in 2005 after independent journalist David Cay Johnston obtained the purported first two pages of that return and made them public.
Johnston appeared on MSNBC Tuesday night to report on the documents, which he says were delivered anonymously to his mailbox. Johnston speculated that Trump, who is the first president in decades not to release his taxes, or someone close to him, may have been the source of the documents.
The White House issued a response to ABC News ahead of the broadcast lauding Trump's income and taxes paid.
"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," a statement from the White House said. "That being said, 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."
It's not clear where the documents originated. Johnston defended himself to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, saying it's within his first amendment rights to publish documents that were delivered to him. “By the way, let me point out that it’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me," Johnston said. "Donald Trump has over the year leaked all sorts of things.” The two-page document, which Johnston produced, is stamped with the words "client copy" on the second page.
That document shows Trump declared $103 million in losses in 2005, placing him well under the top income tax bracket of 35 percent. However, his effective tax rate of 25 percent is actually much higher than what former republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid the year before he ran for president, which was just 14 percent.
It's also notable that Donald Trump paid taxes at all in 2005. Although he has refused to discuss his income tax rate or release any documents, the New York Times reported last year that Trump’s 1995 tax returns showed Trump took a $916 million loss that "would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.”
Donald Trump is the first President since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his full income tax returns. During a January press conference he was asked if he would release them in order to prove that he has no dealing or debts with Russia.
"I'm not releasing the tax returns," Trump said, "because as you know, they’re under audit."
Trump denied having any dealings with Russia and said "the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They’re the only who ask."
And in an interview with ABC's "This Week" in January, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told George Stephanopoulos, "The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care."