Trump's 2005 tax return sent to investigative journalist

Donald Trump.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Someone mailed investigative journalist and tax specialist David Cay Johnston the first two pages of Donald Trump's 2005 tax return, and on Tuesday night, he went over the forms with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

The 1040 form shows Trump made more than $150 million and paid $5.3 million in regular federal income tax, a rate of less than 4 percent. He also paid $31 million more in the alternative minimum tax, which ensures that wealthy taxpayers pay at least a minimum amount of tax. Without the AMT — which Trump has said he wants to abolish — he would have paid less than 3.5 percent in taxes in 2005. Johnston said he does not know who sent him the documents, but it could have been Trump himself, as he has leaked things to him several times over the years.

Trump bucked tradition and drew criticism for not releasing any tax returns during the presidential election, while his opponent, Hillary Clinton, released hers going back to 1977. The Rachel Maddow Show asked the White House to verify if the documents were real, and before Maddow's show even aired, the White House released a statement that began: "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." It went on to say that 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." Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of more than $150 million, the White House said, adding that "despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns." Johnston did not steal the documents.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.