Last October, the New York Times breathlessly published a story called “Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found.” I had always thought newspapers existed to report things that happened, not things that could have happened. But Election Day was near, and Trump had to be stopped. Hence, the Times’ hit piece.
It turns out that, far from dodging tax liability for nearly two decades, Trump paid $38 million in federal taxes in 2005 alone. He paid that amount on income of $153 million.
Thus, Trump paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent. That’s ten percentage points below the top tax rate at the time, but I daresay few billionaires pay anything close to the top rate.
For example, Mitt Romney paid an effective rate of 14 percent in 2011. And unlike Trump, he was running for president at the time he filed his return.
Has President Trump withheld his tax returns because they show him to be a sucker. As the New York Times would say, “he could have.”
News of what Trump paid in taxes in 2005 comes courtesy of Rachel Maddow, the left-wing television talk show host. She obtained the two page summary of the tycoon’s tax returns from David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter. How Johnston obtained them, I don’t know.
According to Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, Maddow spent hours touting her massive scoop. She then went on air and delivered what Cillizza calls “a total nothingburger.”
I get what he means, but the story isn’t nothing. As the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted:
Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realDonaldTrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes!