David Cay Johnston is ever so slightly biased here, no?

In 2005, Donald J. Trump married model Melanija Knavs, his third wife. That year, the real-estate mogul and newly minted TV star earned $153 million dollars, about $3 million a week. That’s far more than all but a tiny sliver of the U.S. population.

The newlyweds paid $36.6 million of that year’s take in federal income taxes, a rate of 24%, putting the Trumps in much the same tax league as any other two-earner professional couple making about $400,000 a year.

Or to put it another way, Donald Trump was paid that year like a member of the 0.001%, but he paid taxes like the 99%. And by at least one measure, he paid like the bottom 50%.

Average tax rate for the top 0.1 % in 2005 was 22.48%.

Between 5 and 10% (that couple on $400k, around and about) 12.61%.

It’s entirely possible to argue that US taxes aren’t high enough and all that. But arguing that Trump’s return here is anything out of the ordinary for his income bracket is, umm, well, misleading, nu?

The document offers a rare glimpse at how a super wealthy couple can manipulate and manage our complex tax laws to reduce their obligations far below rates paid by typical salaried professionals or even blue-collar wage earners.

But an average income tax rate of 24% is far above anything paid by typical salaried professionals or blue collar wages.

Tsk. And to get to the comparable number of 24% for that $400 k earning couple Johnston adds in social security….which isn’t income tax, is it?

The Trumps paid $31.3 million in AMT which, together with the regular tax, made their total federal income tax $36.6 million.

Viewed in terms of their positive income of almost $153 million the total Trump tax bill came to 24%. That’s in the range paid by two-income career couples who both work all year to earn about $400,000. The Trumps income was $418,460 per day.

Yep, that’s what he does, adds SS into that second tax bill.

38 comments on “David Cay Johnston is ever so slightly biased here, no?

  1. This explains why so many of the super-rich are actually Democrats. People like Tim Cook of Apple and pretty much all of Goldman Sacks support the Democrats because they have no intention of paying taxes. They will lobby for a special deal that will make sure they won’t have to. Or they have really good accountants.

    Hence Hollywood.

    We need a “truth in taxation” law.

  2. What is with his middle name? Were his parents just enormous Will Smith fans but they did not realise that “K” was a code name?

  3. Percentage schmentage.

    One couple was forced to hand over $36.6 million dollars to the federal taxman in one year. That’s a fucking scandal.

  4. I’m with you, Cynic. In addition to objecting to progressive taxation on the basis that the majority get to impose on a minority something that will never apply to them, I’ve long thought that there should be a cap on income tax. Surely there comes a point when a person has done there bit? I’m not sure what the point might be, in the millions certainly. What really pisses me off is that, instead of thanking people who pay millions each year in tax, these envious bastards have the nerve to say they’re not paying their fair share. Unbelievable!

  5. Re Goldman Sacks – “Sacks” is what New Yorker couples engage in, typically at night and in the bedroom is it not?

  6. Or to put it another way, Donald Trump was paid that year like a member of the 0.001%, but he paid taxes like the 99%. And by at least one measure, he paid like the bottom 50%.

    I thought the narrative was that the 99% were supposed to be paying higher rates of tax than billionaires? Warren Buffett’s famous secretary, etc.

    And weren’t we also told Trump was an evil tax dodger? But now the complaint is he handed the taxman nearly $40m in one year.

    This makes DJT a pretty crap supervillian in my book. Please tell me he at least spent the rest of his cash on a diabolical scheme to obtain prime beachfront property by nuking the San Andreas fault, or something?

    There’s no smoking gun there, no obvious evasion, but clearly some bending of the tax laws almost to the breaking point.

    I drove at 70mph on the M6 yesterday. There’s no smoking gun there, no obvious illegality, but clearly some bending of the Road Traffic Act – almost to breaking point!

    The 1040 shows how Trump obtained money—salary, business profits, dividends and the like. But there is still far more that it doesn’t say. It does not name the sources of his vast income, whether rich golfers playing on his various courses or Russian oligarchs visiting his various hotels.

    Also not named: Hitler, Dracula and the Nazi-Vampire Daleks. But let’s ham-fistedly imply, on the basis of nothing but our own inflamed liberal ringholes, that President Trump took wads of cash from them too. The bastard!

  7. The newlyweds paid $36.6 million of that year’s take in federal income taxes

    Anyone who has a problem with a couple paying $36.6m in income tax insofar they don’t think this is enough is fucking insane.

    a rate of 24%, putting the Trumps in much the same tax league as any other two-earner professional couple making about $400,000 a year.

    No, somebody who pays $37m of taxes in a year is in very much a different league than a couple earning $400k.

  8. I think Trumps opponents aren’t doing themselves any favours here. One, they are using actual stolen documents (and incited stealing of said documents), and even if no criminal charges are brought, its now opened up the converse to be done to them, and two, most people will hear this news and hear ‘Very rich man paid millions in tax’, which is hardly going to do him any harm.

    I think they now realise they’ve fucked up, because they’re actually saying Trump may have leaked the document to them himself. Which would be entirely characteristic of him, and if true a master stroke. Find your tax return where you paid most tax, leak it in the knowledge the usual suspects won’t be able to help themselves in making it public, everyone sees you paid millions in tax. Then if other less flattering returns appear you’ve already got your shot in first.

    Genius, or very lucky.

  9. @Tim Newman

    “No, somebody who pays $37m of taxes in a year is in very much a different league than a couple earning $400k.”

    That’s the wonder of framing everything as an exercise in “fairness”- it doesn’t matter what the law says, it’s simply opinions.

    A thought experiment I play with lefty friends is this:

    One man gives $500,000 to a charity for the working poor
    One man gives $5000 to the same charity.

    Who has made the biggest contribution?

    The first chap is a billionaire. The second a teacher.
    What do you say now?

    Right, what about if that donation was tax?

  10. Jim – Genius, or very lucky.

    It’s astonishing how his enemies continue to misunderestimate Trump, just because he’s a plainspoken guy with an off-the-cuff style and a New York accent.

    If he spoke like a Boston Brahmin or Gyles Brandreth they’d probably shit themselves.

  11. This is hilarious. They broke the law to prove, on TV and in front of millions, that Trump pays a higher tax rate than his senior Democrat opponents. They really are remarkably stupid.

    This article reminds me of a great Douglas Adams quote from one of his books, something like “in the distance thunder rumbled, like a man saying ‘and another thing’ 20 minutes after losing an argument”.

  12. Re: total tax bill – I’m glad it’s not just me. Hell, Lidl doesn’t ask to see my payslip and bank account before deciding what to charge me for milk. My private health insurance costs what it absolutely costs.

    “Fair share” annoys me.

    What’s fair? It’s subjective.

    It’s fair to pay for what you use and nothing more. It could also be fair to split the bill for running the country equally.

    Charging a percentage isn’t fair to me, it’s just practical – the state is so bloated it couldn’t survive on billing everyone equally.

    The cost of emptying my bin has what to do with the value of my house in 1991?

    Tax is charged on practicality, not fairness. Fair share my arse.

    I pointed out a little unintended consequence of progressive taxation to a lefty friend of mine. It triggered cognitive dissonance. On one hand, they complain that the rich have too much influence on the government. One the other, they support a system where the government is disproportionately funded by the rich. You see where I’m going with this. His response was to say that the rich paying most absolute tax was a myth – BOOM, DISSONANCE – this being in a week where HMRC had released figures specifically about this and had them reported and analysed by newspapers from left and right.

  13. Cynic, this is in line with the Left claiming the rich get rich by taking from the poor (people who have nothing!).

    The public is slowly wising up to articles like this. The only point of the article is . . . haters will hate.

  14. It clearly is not working as the Democrats wanted. CNN, the official Democratic Party network, is claiming that they were probably leaked by the Trump camp.

    Which is a tacit admission that they make Trump look good.

  15. Of course at $400k/year you *are* in the top 1% (or very close), not the 99%. That whole 99% hating the 1% movement would lose a great deal of steam if more of its members and leaders realized that *they* are the target of the hate.

  16. “Genius, or very lucky.”

    Funny that he seems to have such a lot of what lefty commentators like to refer to as “dumb luck”.

    Lots and lots of it.

    Occam is slowly starting to cut the other way to that initially presumed, no?

  17. re: Jim

    “I think they now realise they’ve fucked up, because they’re actually saying Trump may have leaked the document to them himself.”

    I think this is exactly what Trump has done. 4D chess FTW.

  18. “It’s astonishing how his enemies continue to misunderestimate Trump”

    Been saying for a couple of years now, I think he knows what he’s doing and his “terrible statements that means he won’t win” were actually done deliberately.

    I would guess the only person who can legally leak Trump’s tax return is himself (or Melania, possibly, or someone instructed by him to do so etc.), and the thought that he’d done it (or had it done) crossed my mind.

    Anyone else has committed a felony of some sort.

    The left are notoriously thick about this. Apparently there is a house sold for $100m to some Russian which was at a large profit. This is, supposedly, buying influence.

    If true, this Russian doesn’t need to buy influence, he can simply tell us what the lottery numbers each week will be.

    Trump wasn’t mooted as a candidate for years after 2005, when he was he was a joke candidate*, when he won the Republican ticket he had no chance of winning. On the night before election pundits who were saying, look, there is a *possibility* he might win this way were being ridiculed.

    Interestingly protection for journalists apparently doesn’t apply if you solicit it. If someone gave Maddowski Trump’s tax returns, that’s fine. If her, or MSNBC have been touting for them, that’s a crime on them as well as the person who leaked them.

    * there’s footage of Ann Coulter saying she thinks he will win the nomination on some panel and everyone laughing at her. But it looks like they aren’t actually trying to pretend it’s not true, they genuinely think it’s a nonsense.

  19. “It’s astonishing how his enemies continue to misunderestimate Trump”

    That’s the behaviour of people who think they are clever but are in fact very stupid, who think as a herd and who haven’t been challenged for decades.

  20. I can’t say I’ve ever prepared a return like Trump’s, but after a quick glance at what has been made available, what I find is a thoroughly unexceptional tax return. It’s about what I would have imagined.

    Once again, the ‘big story’ isn’t much of a story at all.

  21. And as Matt Drudge is now showing, Trump has set the bar at about 25% for any politician or journalistic hack. The first question out of the Trump camp will be, “What was your percentage?” And as we are already seeing, that isn’t going to play into the hands of folks like Bernie Sanders.

    Trump is playing chess, these guys are playing checkers.

  22. “Trump is playing chess, these guys are playing checkers”

    About a week ago he tweeted about something the media were refusing to cover, and there was a typo in the tweet. I was on the fence as to whether the typo was just careless or was deliberate to force the media to mention the issue. The lefties of course go with the “he’s a stupid buffoon” explanation.

    However, the more I see the more I’m convinced that Occam breaks towards 4D chess rather than the “he’s a stupid buffoon” position.

  23. “Occam is slowly starting to cut the other way to that initially presumed, no?”

    I’m beginning to wonder if all (or most) of Trumps tax returns are like this one, ie perfectly reasonable for a billionaire businessman, that there was nothing to hide, and he’s taken the flak about not releasing them during the campaigns in order to have them ready as ammunition when he needs them.

  24. I’m beginning to wonder if all (or most) of Trumps tax returns are like this one, ie perfectly reasonable for a billionaire businessman, that there was nothing to hide, and he’s taken the flak about not releasing them during the campaigns in order to have them ready as ammunition when he needs them.

    +1

    It appears to never dawn on the Rachel Maddows of the world that wealthy individuals tend to farm out their tax planning and compliance to groups of highly qualified professionals. They seem to think guys like Donald Trump spend April 14 fucking around with TurboTax.

  25. ” They seem to think guys like Donald Trump spend April 14 fucking around with TurboTax.”

    Let us all remember Timothy Geithner.

  26. If you include “social security” then UK tax rates are about 33%*. That is the sole reason why government will never admit that National Insurance is just another income tax and merge it into proper income tax. !Scary numbers!

    *I was working this out in my head while driving through the night a couple of days ago, so may not be exact.

  27. One thing that a Trump administration could usefully do, if they hadn’t a shitload of other SJW crap to sort, would be to simplify the tax code. Having read Tom Clancy’s later novels, it was obvious he wanted a much cleaner tax code.

    We could usefully do with that too in the UK, but Hammond & May haven’t got anything like enough Right Stuff to get on with it, even though the political opposition is basically nonexistent at this point. On balance, if it comes to it, Brexit is preferable to me than a cleaner tax code, but it would be good if they could do both.

  28. “TRUMP PAID HIGHER TAX RATE [25%] THAN MSNBC COMCAST [24%]… MUCH HIGHER THAN OBAMA [19%]… AND BERNIE [13%]!”

    What a gentleman Trump is, he obviously didn’t want to embarrass Obama or Bernie during the campaign.

  29. jgh

    “What was Hillary’s tax code?”

    She doesn’t need one. All the money goes to the Clinton Foundation and is used for good causes.

  30. So, the Left have been left with two memes they are desperately defending as they retreat from their latest rout:

    1) Trump should pay EVEN MOAR TAX coz he’s rich (country yawns)

    2) Trump leaked his own tax returns (country laughs).

    They are remarkably stupid. How did they get to control most of the media and government?

  31. They are remarkably stupid. How did they get to control most of the media and government?

    The Cucks gave it to them, because the lefties called them nasty words.

    Suddenly the left have real opposition, and they have no idea how to handle it. The magic words that have always worked so far suddenly don’t. Have the Gods forsaken them? No, they’ll just shout the magic words louder. That’ll work.

  32. @jgh
    If you include “social security” then UK tax rates are about 33%*
    Actually, if you include Employer’s NI it’s just over 40% for most people (on earnings between £11k and £43k)

    I can provide a full breakdown if you’re interested, but for earnings between 11k and 43k you have:
    Employer’s NI: 13.8%
    Employee’s NI: 12%
    Income Tax: 20%
    So for a £100 increase in salary, cost to employer (which is incident on employee) is £113.80 and employee gets to take home £68. Tax rate: (1-(68/113.8)) = 40.25%

  33. Although probably worth mentioning, I think we’re just talking about the american Federal Income Tax. They do have to pay state and city-based taxes as well, depending on where they are.

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