United States President Donald Trump earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million (almost 24% of his earnings) in taxes in 2005, according to income tax returns disclosed on MSNBC. Journalist David Cay Johnston of DCReport.org, who covers tax-related subjects, received the forms unsolicited on mail and reported it on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Tuesday.

A large chunk of Trump’s tax bill in 2005 was a result of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which stops high-income earners from paying minimal taxes. The president has been pushing to eliminate the AMT, which is expected to bring in more than $350 billion (Rs 2,300 crore) in revenues from 2016 to 2025. As per the AMT rule, taxpayers pay the higher amount after calculating their levies twice – once under regular IT rules and again under AMT. Without this rule, Trump would have paid only a fraction of what he did, AP reported.

The subject of Trump’s taxes has been a highly-debated topic since his campaign days as he has refused to disclose his tax returns – something all Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have released for more than four decades. During his rallies, he had declared that he avoided paying federal income taxes for years by legally exploiting tax loopholes. The New York Times had reported in October last year that Trump had enjoyed these tax benefits after losing millions of investors’ money in his casino business in 1995. In 2005, Trump also wrote off $103 million in losses.

Before MSNBC even revealed the information, the White House called the channel “desperate for ratings” for being “willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago”. In the US, unauthorised disclosure of tax returns is illegal, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and five years prison time. But MSNBC’s Maddow argued that the channel was exercising its First Amendment right to release data in public interest.

Although the US president has maintained that the American public had no interest in his taxes, details of his returns could provide information on his charities, the deductions he claimed, sources of income, earnings from assets and the manoeuvres he used to cut his taxes. Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had used his refusal to disclose his returns to suggest he had something to hide.

Trump had earlier refused to disclose his tax returns saying he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The Democratic Nation Committee said, “The White House’s willingness to release some tax information when it suits them proves Donald Trump’s audit excuse is a sham.”