On her Tuesday night show, Rachel Maddow revealed that one of Donald Trump tax returns had been leaked to her -- and she revealed it to her viewing audience. The return was actually mailed anonymously to reporter David Cay Johnston, who revealed it to Maddow.
It was a 12 year-old return (from 2005). It showed that Trump had made $150 million that year, and he paid about $38 million in taxes on that income. That's about a 25% tax rate -- more than the 13% that Romney paid on an income of $25 million, but less than many upper middle class Americans pay on far less income.
It is interesting that $31 million of that tax came from the "alternative minimum tax" -- a tax that Trump has said he wants to abolish in his tax reform proposals. If there were no alternative minimum tax required, Trump would only have paid about $7 million in taxes (about a 4.7% tax rate).
Where did this tax return come from, and why was it leaked to the press? Only Trump and his family, the IRS, and his accountant had access to Trump's tax returns. I seriously doubt the accountant would have leaked it, since that would endanger a very lucrative contract with Trump. I also doubt anyone at the IRS would have done it. The IRS takes the secrecy of tax returns very seriously, and would fire anyone who leaked any return (and maybe even file charges against them).
Was the leak authorized by Trump himself? That's a distinct possibility. He could have done it to distract the public from the miserable failure of the GOP health plan roll-out. He could also have done it to blunt the continuing calls for his to release his returns. Maybe he thought if the public saw one return where he paid taxes, they would stop clamoring for him to release other, more recent returns.
That's not going to work though. The public now believes he is trying to hide something in his more recent returns -- that he paid only a tiny percentage, or that he has more economic ties to Russia than he's admitted. They are still going to want to see his returns -- at least for the last five years.
The charts below are from a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done between March 10th and 12th of a random national sample of 808 registered voters, with a 3.4 point margin of error. It shows 61% of the public wants Trump to release recent returns, while only 32% say it's not necessary -- a gap of 29 points. And 61% also say they would support a law requiring a president (presidential candidate) to release at least the last five years worth of tax returns.
This issue is not going away -- and by refusing to release the returns, Trump is just making it look like he has something to hide.
(The photo of Rachel Maddow above is by Paul Schultz and was found at Wikipedia. The Trump photo is by the AP and was found in the Business Insider.)