March 23, 2017 0420 GMT
Trump was committed "to his company, his family and his employees” to pay the least possible amount of tax to the US government, the White House said on Tuesday as it published forms that showed Trump’s tax statements in 2005.
The year 2005 was a good year for Trump’s business. Before that, he had been exempted from tax for 18 years due to huge losses in his companies.
Even in 2005, despite reporting an income of $150 million, he reduced his federal taxes by tens of millions of dollars and paid only $38 million in federal income taxes, according to US media.
Until now, Trump had refused to disclose his annual tax statements, and his revenues and tax payments were largely a secret.
The rare disclosure of tax return came after TV host Rachel Maddow said she would air the president’s tax forms on her MSNBC show.
The White House immediately published Trump's 2005 tax report in what seemed to be a preemptive move against the MSNBC’s announcement.
Maddow said the tax statement reached her hand through a journalist who received it from an anonymous source which could have been Trump himself.
Before the show went on air, the White House issued a statement defending Trump’s "genius" ways to evade tax.
In the statement, the White House slammed MSNBC for airing the show saying, “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.”
During the presidential debates, Democrat Hillary Clinton suggested that Trump kept his tax statements secret to hide the fact that he did not pay federal income taxes.
Trump responded to the tax evasion accusation by saying, “That makes me smart.”
Trump’s camp has described his ability to evade government tax as an act of economic “genius.”
“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 its statement.
In a 2005 book named Trump Nation, Timothy L. O’Brien, a former reporter for The New York Times, argued that Trump’s net worth was $150 million to $250 million, rather than several billion dollars, as Trump had claimed.
In the book, O’Brien made reference to the ways Trump avoided paying tax and pointed to his history of repeated bankruptcies to prove his point.
Trump filed a lawsuit against the writer for libel. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed in 2009.