Trump’s Tax Return Suggests He’s the Most Incompetent Billionaire in the Nation


Tonight’s exciting news: David Cay Johnston somehow got hold of the first page of Donald Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. He released it on the Rachel Maddow show tonight:

Here are Trump’s major sources of income:

  • Interest income: $9 million
  • Business income: $42 million
  • Capital gains: $32 million
  • Rental income: $67 million
  • Miscellaneous: $2 million
  • Total: $152 million

After a writeoff of $103 million, his adjusted gross income clocked in at $49 million. His taxable income came in at $31 million and his tax bill for this was $5 million. That’s a tax rate of about 3 percent. Ka-ching!

Sadly for Trump, the Alternative Minimum Tax kicked in, which meant he had to pay $38 million in taxes. I guess it’s no wonder that Trump doesn’t think very highly of the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Without more pages from his tax return, there’s a limit to what we can learn from this. Trump’s income of $150 million fits fairly well with the estimates I’ve seen. But I will add one thing.

Trump’s total investment income was $108 million, and Trump claims to be worth $5 billion or so, depending on what day you ask him. That means he earned a return on his assets of about 2 percent. In 2005! During the housing bubble! I’m no tax expert, and maybe he had hundreds of millions in capital gains that he didn’t realize that year. Who needs more than $150 million in income, after all? It still seems pretty low, though, and if Trump really did earn a return of only 2 percent he is, by long odds, the most incompetent billionaire in the country.

Alternatively, of course, Trump is actually worth about $1-2 billion and he earned something like a 5-10 percent return. Take your pick.