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MSNBC’s Non-Story: Trump Paid 25% Tax Rate, More Than Romney or Bernie

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While Rachel Maddow drones on with the coherence of Janet Yellen, losing thousands of viewers by the minute, the MSNBC anchor was promptly scooped not only by the White House which revealed her “secret” one hour in advance, but also by the Daily Beast which reported that its contributor David Cay Johnston had obtained the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income tax return, allegedly receiving them in the mail, and posted his analysis on his website, DCReport.org.

According to the documents, Trump and his wife Melania paid $38 million in total income tax, consisting of $5.3 million in regular federal income tax, and an additional $31 million of “alternative minimum tax,” or AMT.

That’s a higher rate than Romney or Bernie paid

  • Trump 2005 tax rate: 25%
  • Obama 2015 tax rate: 18.7%
  • Romney 2011 tax rate: 14.1%
  • Sanders 2014 tax rate: 13.5%

The White House statement confirmed the finding: “Before being elected President, Mr. 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,” the White House said in a statement. “That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that.”

As the Daily Beast notes, 2005 was the year that Trump, then a newly minted reality star, made his last big score as a real-life real estate developer, when he sold two properties, one on Manhattan’s west side and one in San Francisco, to Hong Kong investors, accounting for the lion’s share of his income that year.

Going on“It is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns,” the White House statement concluded. “The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.”

But the real story here is that there is no story: what MSNBC confirmed is that Trump made more money than some of his critics said he made in the period in question, and more importantly, that he paid a generous effective income tax rate, well above the 14.1% rate paid by Mitt Romney, and even higher than the 13.5% federal tax rate paid by Bernie Sanders in 2014.

Sadly for Maddow, with this attempt at a “blockbuster” story which has quickly backfired, she may well have killed the great distraction that was the trove of Trump’s tax returns, and which the rest of the “resistance” press hammered on every now and then.

Meanwhile, infighting in the Republican party may be about to expose Trump as “The Emperor With No Clothes.” One of the questions being asked is that why is he not releasing his tax returns. Is it possibly because he hasn’t done as well since then and doesn’t want his image as a financial genius to go down the drain?

Stay tuned. Taxes are always in the news, even if they’re personal.

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