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Trump paid $54m in tax in 2005

Some details of US President Donald Trump's taxes leaked to media

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump paid around US$38 million (S$54 million) in taxes in 2005, the White House said late on Tuesday, as some details of the president's tax status were leaked to the US media.

Mr Trump has refused to release his full tax returns, breaking with decades of tradition among presidential candidates of all political parties.

The leak - a summary of one year's filing from more than a decade ago - is a small but tantalising glimpse into the mogul's tax history.

The White House confirmed the details just before David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and MSNBC said they would reveal the short filing.

The snapshot was broadly favourable to the White House and appeared to back up Trump's claim that he paid his fair share of taxes.

But the 2005 return showed amounts owed but, crucially, not sources of income that would confirm or repudiate questions about Trump's business ties.

"The documents show Trump and his wife Melania paying US$5.3 million in regular federal income tax - a rate of less than 4 per cent," Mr Johnston wrote in a post on the Daily Beast. "However, the Trumps paid an additional US$31 million in the so-called 'alternative minimum tax' or AMT."

AMT was originally designed to prevent rich taxpayers from using excessive loopholes, and Mr Trump has previously called for its elimination.

Appearing on MSNBC with centre left commentator Rachel Maddow, Mr Johnston said he did not know the source of the leak, noting that the return was placed in his mailbox.

"Let me point out it's entirely possible Donald sent this to me," he said. "Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it's in his interests."

Trump's overall tax rate was around 25 per cent on earnings of more than US$150 million.

The president has claimed that he wasn't releasing his taxes because he is under IRS audit, and that US voters do not care.

A recent poll showed that almost three quarters of Americans believe Mr Trump should release his tax returns.

Mr Donald Trump Junior was quick to claim victory over those who speculated his dad paid no taxes. "I don't know much, but if I recall correctly $38,000,000 is a lot more than $0... right???" he wrote on Twitter.

The White House bashed the media for publishing the return, but confirmed its authenticity and key figures.

"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," an administration official said.

Mr Trump paid "no more tax than legally required," said the official, who refused to be named. "That being said, Mr Trump paid $38 million even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million."

Mr Trump also paid "tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes".

"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," the official said. - AFP

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