US President Donald Trump paid US$38m in tax on more than US$150m income in 2005, a leaked tax return shows. Two pages of the tax return were revealed by US TV network MSNBC, triggering an angry response from the White House, arguing that publishing the tax return was illegal.
Mr. Trump refused to release his tax returns during the election campaign, breaking with a long-held tradition. The two pages were a fraction of the complete return and did not include details of Mr. Trump's income.
Media says the leak is still significant because so little is known about President Trump's tax returns and the new information will increase pressure on him to release more. The two pages show that Mr Trump paid US$ 5.3m in federal income tax and an extra US$ 31m in what is called alternative minimum tax (AMT).
AMT was set up nearly 50 years ago to stop the wealthiest people from using deductions and loopholes to avoid paying taxes. The US$ 38m bill was an effective tax rate of about 24%, higher than the average American citizen would pay but below the 27.4% averaged by higher-earning taxpayers.
Although leaking federal tax returns is a criminal offence, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued that it was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest. Journalist David Cay Johnston, interviewed on MSNBC, said he had received the documents in the post from an anonymous source.
In a statement issued before the broadcast, the White House said: 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 Mr. Trump had a responsibility to pay no more tax than was legally required.
Every US presidential candidate since 1976 has released their tax returns although there is no law requiring it. During last year's election campaign, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton accused Mr. Trump in a head-to-head debate of paying no federal income tax. He responded: That makes me smart.
Last October, the New York Times revealed parts of Mr. Trump's 1995 tax returns that showed losses of US$ 916m. Analysts said that would have allowed him to avoid paying income tax for up to 18 years afterward.