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There’s a conspiracy theory that those ‘leaked’ Donald Trump tax returns came from the White House

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During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was repeatedly asked to publish his tax returns.

The returns would show he had obeyed the nation's tax laws, and demonstrate his net worth.

Publishing returns, while not a legal requirement, is a convention of US presidential elections, as a means to show that a candidate, like Caesar's wife, is above suspicion.

The Trump campaign however, repeatedly and resolutely refused to release them.

On Tuesday the political pundit Rachel Maddow tweeted that she and her MSNBC team had managed to get a hold of 'Trump's tax returns'

 

Maddow subsequently revealed that what they had acquired was two pages of the return the president filed in 2005.

Specifically his '1040,' which is one of three forms used for personal federal income tax returns, filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The first page is used to calculate your income, and the second for reporting any deductions from your income, such as business or medical expenses.

Before Maddow's show could 'publish' their information, the Trump Administration released the 1040.

The 1040 showed that in 2005 the president reported an income of $150 m, and he paid $38 m.

They also revealed he wrote off $100 m in losses.

Who leaked the documents?

Tax expert and Trump biographer David Cay Johnston appeared on Maddow's show, stating that the 1040 had been delivered anonymously to his home.

To add to the mystery, Johnston said they had been 'pushed over the transom' of his house (a door with a window above it) by an unknown individual.

Johnston speculated that the 1040 could have been sent to him by the President himself.

This theory gained ground as others were drawn to a stamp on second page that read 'Client Copy'.

 

 

Others pointed out that while 'Client Copy' does not guarantee the documents were leaked at the president's command, it would have been someone in his inner circle who had access to them.

 

The White House condemned what it called the 'illegal' leaking of the document, and chastised Maddow for 'chasing ratings'.

As the document shows Trump paid $36 million in federal income taxes that year, it at least dampens accusations by his opponents that he has not paid income taxes 'for twenty years'.

 

While this would be a good motive for the White House to leak the document, it also backfired by drawing reporters' attention to Trump's tax policies.

 

Trump's proposed tax changes to abolish the 'alternative minimum tax' would mean someone like him with an income of $150 million would pay less federal income tax than someone earning $33, 000.

The source of the leaked 1040 form remains unknown.

On Wednesday, the President responded to the leak on his usual platform - Twitter.

 

Yet the President has heard of this reporter.

Johnston has reported on him for the last 28 years, specifically regarding his financial dealings.

In 2016, Johnston published The Making of Donald Trump.

HT New York Times


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