by Jay Yarow · March 14, 2017
On her Tuesday show, Rachel Maddow teased a scoop: She had Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns. It was the first time his federal returns would be released.
Small digression: MSNBC’s Maddow didn’t have them. Investigative reporter David Cay Johnston got them, and went on her show to talk about it.
Anyway, when she finally revealed what was in the taxes, it was not a huge deal. Trump earned about $150 million in income in 2005, and paid $38 million in taxes, thanks to the alternative minimum tax, which he wants to kill.
This gives Trump an effective tax rate of about 24 percent, which Johnston pointed out was roughly equal to what he and his wife, who are an upper middle class couple, pay.
And, sure, for a billionaire, you can argue that he should pay more in taxes. But, $38 million is a big number. As is $150 million in income.
There was speculation, fueled by Trump himself, that he wasn’t paying anything in taxes. That led to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton attacking him on that front.
“The only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax,” Clinton said in September.
Trump quickly retorted: “That makes me smart.”
But, it turns out Trump did pay taxes, at least in 2005.
Donald Trump Jr.tweet: Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realDonaldTrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes! #Taxes
For Trump, in the swirl of chaos thanks to the CBO saying the GOP health-care bill would lead to 24 million uninsured and the FBI preparing to weigh in on his accusation of President Barack Obama wire tapping him, this tax story is a welcome reprieve.
The 2005 tax return could have been an anomaly. Maybe Trump doesn’t pay this much in taxes normally. Or, maybe he usually pays more. Who knows! Either way, this story has created the appearance that Trump does in fact make a lot of money, and he pays millions in taxes.
For the next news cycle, we’re likely to see this story dominate, giving Trump some breathing room as the media had been laser focused on the GOP health-care bill’s flaws.
On Maddow’s show, Johnston suggested that Trump may have sent the tax returns to him. It seemed like an odd thing to say. But, when you look at how this is really good for Trump, maybe it’s not so crazy after all.