For months, many of President Donald Trump's political opponents have suggested that Trump refused to release his tax returns because the documents would indicate that the billionaire businessman hadn't paid his "fair share" in taxes.
That liberal narrative was dealt a serious blow Tuesday night when portions of the president's 2005 tax returns were published, showing that Trump's effective federal tax rate during that year was 25 percent — well above the effective tax rate of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, in 2014 and of the former GOP standard bearer, Mitt Romney, in 2011.
Trump's 25 percent federal tax rate in 2005 was also higher than that of self-avowed Democratic socialist and former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) in 2014.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sanders and his wife, Jane, reported an income of $205,271 in 2014. They made $8,350 in charitable contributions. Their federal income tax bill was $27,653, meaning their federal income tax rate was 13.5 percent — about half Trump's 2005 tax rate.
The comparison is curious, to say the least, given that one of Sanders' most popular talking points while he was running for president was making the rich pay their "fair share."
Sanders often held up the example of the Scandinavian countries, where some income earners' federal income tax rate is as high as 60 percent. Those countries — Denmark, Sweden and Norway — also guarantee health care for all citizens, something Sanders has long advocated for the U.S. Sanders also supports making public colleges and universities "tuition free" through higher taxes.
During the first Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas in October 2015, Sanders blasted Trump and his "billionaire friends," suggesting they didn't pay enough in federal income taxes.
“Let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today — taxes in the future than they’re paying today," Sanders said, the New York Times reported.
But even liberal TV host Bill Maher confronted Sanders the very next day about the practicality of his economic policies.
“Now this has been studied, the amount of tax revenue we would get just from taxing the people who I think your fans think you’re talking about — the people who own a yacht — does not come close to covering what you want to pay for,” Maher told Sanders.
Sanders said that was "not true," but later acknowledged his plan would require raising taxes on people in lower income tax brackets as well.
“We may have to go down a little bit lower than that, but not much lower," Sanders said, the Huffington Post reported.