US President Donald Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of more than $150 million in 2005, the White House said on Tuesday.
The acknowledgement came shortly before MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on two pages of Trump's 2005 tax forms on her Tuesday night show.
BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017
— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) March 15, 2017
The records were obtained by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who said he received the documented unsolicited, in the mail.
The documents have become highly sought-after because Trump refused to release his returns during the campaign, breaking a decades-long tradition.
The issue was a major point of attack from his election rival Hillary Clinton, who suggested Trump had something to hide.
Rachel Maddow: "The first amendment gives us the right to publish this return." pic.twitter.com/Jgbu1GRSIk
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 15, 2017
The White House has not said whether or not the president plans to release his returns while he is in office. More than 1 million people have signed a White House petition urging the president to release them.
Trump had claimed he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and said his attorneys had advised against it — though experts and IRS officials said such audits don't bar taxpayers from releasing their returns.
The White House pushed back pre-emptively on Tuesday night, saying that publishing those returns would be "illegal."
"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," it said in a statement.
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 — anonymous Trump administration official
The unauthorised release or publishing of federal tax returns is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail.
Based on the documents obtained by Johnston, Trump paid $36.5 million in taxes on $153 million in income, for an effective tax rate of around 24 percent.
That percentage is higher than the roughly 10 percent the average American pays each year — but below the 27.4 percent that taxpayers earning 1 million dollars a year average, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.