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President Trump's Leaked Tax Return: What It Reveals

03-15-2017
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Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for The American Center for Law and Justice, shared his thoughts on the leak of the president's tax information and who might be behind it on The 700 Club. Watch above.

Taxes are center stage in Washington today, but it's not proposed tax cuts for Americans that are getting all the attention. It's Donald Trump's taxes.

One of the president's leaked returns was disclosed on cable television last night and it reveals more than his political opponents expected.

TV host Rachel Maddow released details of Trump's leaked 2005 tax return on her MSNBC show.

She received the two-page 1040 tax form from financial journalist David Cay Johnston.

The question is – where did this come from? If it came from the IRS, an employee of the IRS  or a former employee of the IRS, it is a crime. If it was released by a tax return preparer without the consent of the client, it is also crime.

-- Jay Sekulow, ACLJ chief counsel

Johnston says an unknown source sent it to his mailbox, but he offered some speculation on one possible source.

"Let me point out that it is entirely possible Donald sent this to me. Donald Trump over the years has leaked all sorts of things," Johnston said.

Democrats made Donald Trump's unwillingness to release his tax returns a top issue of the 2016  presidential campaign. 
 
Last September, at the Hofstra University debate, Hillary Clinton pressed Trump, suggesting he was hiding something.

"Maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight to know that he has paid nothing in federal taxes," she insisted. 
 
But contrary to speculation by Clinton and other political opponents, Trump's leaked 2005 tax return shows he paid $38 million in taxes on an income of more than $150 million. He also paid tens of millions of dollars in additional excise, sales, and employment taxes. 

His tax rate: 25 percent.

That's higher than 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney paid in 2011. 

I watched Rachel Maddow last night... and it was almost like a Comedy Central. What did it show? That Donald Trump made a lot of money and paid a lot of taxes. That was the story.

--Jay Sekulow, ACLJ chief counsel

Responding to the leaked tax return, the White House released a statement saying, "You know you are desperate for ratings when you're willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago."

The White House went on to say, "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. "

It is illegal for the IRS or anyone to obtain and release a person's federal tax returns without their permission, although journalists are protected if they report the returns if the information comes from an outside source. 

And the question remains — who sent the 2005 tax return to Johnston? 

Jill Colvin, Associated Press White House reporter, asks was it Trump, or someone else?

"Where these came from is going to be one of the key questions going forward. Who else has copies of these?" he asked. "How many of them exist? Are we going to start seeing other copies from different years pop up?"

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