Tuesday 23 May 2017

Trump slams reporter who 'found' tax return in emails

President Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, his senior adviser, leave the White House in Washington yesterday. Photo: Reuters
President Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, his senior adviser, leave the White House in Washington yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Jill Colvin

US President Donald Trump has reacted with fury after his 2005 tax return was leaked, showing he earned $153m (€143.9m) and paid $36.5m (€34.3m) in income taxes that year.

The amount equates to a roughly 25pc effective tax rate thanks to a tax he has since sought to eliminate, according to newly disclosed tax documents.

Mr Trump took to Twitter early yesterday to cast doubt on Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston's account.

"Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, 'went to his mailbox' and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!"

The pages from Mr Trump's federal tax return show the real estate mogul also reported a business loss of $103m (€96.8m) that year, although the documents don't provide detail.

The forms show that Mr Trump paid an effective tax rate of 24.5pc, a figure well above the roughly 10pc the average American taxpayer forks out each year, but below the 27.4pc that taxpayers earning $1m (€940,000) a year average were paying at the time, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The tax form was obtained by Mr Johnston, who runs the website DCReport.org, and reported on MSNBC's 'The Rachel Maddow Show'. Mr Johnston, who has long reported on tax issues, said he received the documents in the mail, unsolicited.

Mr Trump's hefty business loss appears to be a continued benefit from his use of a tax loophole in the 1990s, which allowed him to deduct his creditors' losses on his failing casinos as his own business losses, which Mr Trump then used to offset his personal taxes in future years.

In 1995, Mr Trump reported a loss of more than $900m - an amount that had dwindled to $103m by the 2005 filing.

Tax records obtained by 'The New York Times' last year showed the losses were so large they could have allowed Mr Trump to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years.

But Mr Trump's 2005 filing shows another tax prevented him from realising the full benefit of those deductions.

The bulk of Mr Trump's tax bill that year was due to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), a tax aimed at preventing high-income earners from paying minimal taxes.

Mr Trump's campaign website called for the end of the AMT, which is expected to bring in more than $350bn (€329bn) in revenues from 2016 to 2025.

As a candidate and as president, Mr Trump has refused to release his tax returns, breaking a decades-long tradition. Although he initially promised to do so, he later claimed he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service and said his attorneys had advised against it - though experts and IRS officials said such audits don't bar taxpayers from releasing their returns.

The White House pushed back even before the release of the documents, saying on Tuesday night that publishing the information was illegal.

"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 said.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump last night stood by his explosive claim that former president Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during last year's presidential campaign.

The president said he expected "some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks", adding that "wiretap covers a lot of different things".

Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, directly contradicted the president yesterday, saying: "We don't have any evidence that that took place."

THE Federal Reserve hiked US interest rates by another 25 basis points yesterday in its third upward move since the financial crisis.

Janet Yellen, chair of the Fed's board of governors, said the economy is on a healthy footing as unemployment is falling, and so rates need to go up to limit rising inflation.

She expects the central bank to increase rates twice more this year, accelerating from the single rate hikes in both 2015 and 2016.

Irish Independent

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