President Trump has yet to formally release his federal tax returns– a huge controversy throughout the presidential race. For nearly a century, presidential candidates released their tax returns for the public’s viewing. Despite this tradition, President Trump chose not to, which is perfectly legal according to the policies regarding financial privacy. Many still speculate that the reason Trump has yet to release these documents is due to his lack of paying any type of federal tax or due to evidence of financial ties with Russia. During one of the many presidential debates, Hillary Clinton made accusations against President Trump stating:
“Maybe he doesn’t want the American people– all of you watching tonight– to know he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”
The game changed recently due to the reported leak of the President’s 2005 tax returns, giving further evidence Trump has paid his dues to the U.S. government.
The Issue at Hand
On Tuesday March 14th, President Trump’s tax return documents were leaked through the media by David Cay Johnston. According to the prize winning journalist, the two page document was delivered to him via mail. The report was later revealed by news anchor Rachel Maddow live on Tuesday night. Despite the fact that Johnston received these documents personally, the White House spoke to the press stating the President’s 2005 tax returns were “illegally published.”
According to the law, no persons, no matter their government position is required to release any portion of tax documents or returns. Furthermore, any persons who comes into contact or possession of these documents cannot release them to a third party without explicit permission (further stated in U.S. code Title 26). Johnston may be in some legal trouble here. It depends on who these documents were sent through. The manner in which Johnston received this document is still in question. Some even question if the President himself mailed the document. Whether or not this document was obtained and released legally, President Trump is being scrutinized for the information contained in the tax returns.
The Fact of the Matter
Leftists are underwhelmed by the taxes Trump paid in 2005. The document revealed President Trump paid a sum of roughly $38 million in federal taxes while making a total income of $153 million. This means 24% of the president’s income was taken in federal taxes. However, his level of income corresponds with a 40% income taxation. Through a $109 million claim in losses, Trump was able to pay 16% less than required. The matter is under fire for being only the legal minimum required to be paid in this specific situation. Despite this backlash, many right wingers are applauding Trump for using the system and taxation laws to his advantage. No criminal acts involving President Donald Trump’s taxes were committed according to federal law. In fact, the President paid what was required of him during the 2005 tax season.