MARCH 16, 2017 — The second leak of a bit of President Donald Trump’s federal tax history had much the same effect as the first one in October: Both show just how important it is that Americans be given a full and in-depth look at the finances of the most powerful man in the world.
This time, it was two pages from Trump’s 2005 income-tax return sent anonymously to a reporter. They show Trump paid $38 million in taxes, reported income of $150 million and claimed more than $100 million in losses. The release seems to help Trump’s reputation as much as it hurts it, showing both that he paid a lot, but that it was the alternative minimum tax, a levy he says he wants to end, that forced him to do so.
In October, several pages of Trump’s 1995 tax return surfaced that showed a $916 million loss that could have been deducted against earnings for as long as 18 years afterward. About all these excerpts tell us is how much we don’t know, and how very much we need to.
Since Watergate, all major-party presidential nominees have released full returns. When he announced his candidacy, Trump said he would do so, but then began claiming that an ongoing audit prevented their release. IRS officials say it’s untrue that an audit prevents someone from releasing returns.
Trump’s labyrinthine international business continues to be run by his children and benefit from his presidency. Also troubling is that the family of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and key adviser, is about to pocket $400 million from an investment by powerful Chinese operators in a tower at 666 Fifth Ave. Trump’s returns, which Americans should have seen before the election, are now a matter of national security. Only by releasing them can he end speculation that his investments are conflicts of interest.