Hillary Clinton made a lot of money last year as did her husband, former President Bill Clinton, according to their 2015 tax return released Friday.
But the release wasn’t about their federal tax rate of 34.2 percent or the fact they made $10.6 million—less than half of the $28 million they made in 2014.
It’s not even about the more than $1 million the Clintons have given to charity (the vast majority to the Clinton Foundation).
No, this was about Donald Trump.
Given their long tenure in public service, the Clintons release their tax returns publically about as often as most people file their actual taxes. Her campaign website has links to the returns since 2007 and notes that the records of their income have been public since 1977.
Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t released any returns. A fact he has attributed—in no particular order—to an ongoing audit, to the fact Clinton hadn’t released her emails or, in a Meet the Press interview in January, they were simply being “approved and very beautiful” but would “absolutely” be released (they weren’t).
The Clinton campaign gleefully pointed all of this out and also released a video that included Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney calling for his returns to be released in press clips.
The video also included footage of Trump saying that tax forms should be released—but he was clearly not talking about himself.
In an effort to take the issue completely off the table, the campaign also released 10 years of her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine’s returns.
These revealed that his effective federal tax rate varied significantly from year to year: just 13.4 percent in 2009, the last full year he was governor of Virginia and peaking at 24 percent in 2011, when he concluded his stint as Democratic National Committee chair. The returns also show that Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, gave less than 8 percent of their income to charity. The couple reported just over $300,000 in adjusted gross income last year, a small fraction of what the Clintons made.
Trump surrogates point to the fact that Trump did release an estimate of his income when he ran for president in the form of financial disclosure forms that are required to seek the office in the first place.
But the 104-page document he released only paints a partial picture of his finances and do not include his tax rate or his charitable giving as well as other pertinent financial information.
One of the only times Trump did release his returns was in the early 1980s, according to The Washington Post, and at that time they revealed he paid absolutely nothing in income taxes.
Two tax appeals that Trump filed in the 1990s, both of which he lost, showed a similar numbers, The Daily Beast reported in June.
In May, Trump bragged to George Stephanopoulous that he fights “very hard to pay as little tax as possible.”
When asked what his tax rate was exactly, Trump responded, “It’s none of your business. You’ll see it when I release. But I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.”
But that’s the problem.
Because when your whole message is about this rigged system that is ripping off the average American and your tax forms might show you’ve been doing the same in a completely legal way that—well, to use Trump’s verbiage—could be a disaster.