Trump's 2005 tax returns leaked

US television network MSNBC has revealed what it says is Donald Trump's 2005 tax returns.

"What we've got is from 2005... the President's 1040 form," MSNBC host Rachel Maddow tweeted.

She accused Mr Trump of having links to banks owned by wealthy businessmen who gave Mr Trump money in exchange for property, and questioned whether he had received Russian money.

The White House responded by saying the president paid US$38 million in taxes on more than US$150m in income.

The documents reveal that Mr Trump paid US$5.3 million in regular federal income tax as well as an additional US$31 million in the "alternative minimum tax". 

"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," the White House said in a statement.

It said Mr Trump, as head of the Trump Organization, had a responsibility "to pay no more tax than legally required".

The records have become highly sought-after because Mr Trump refused to release his returns during the campaign, breaking a decades-long tradition.

Presidents and major candidates for the White House have routinely released their income tax returns.

It is rumoured the documents were deliberately leaked, either because it suits Mr Trump to have them released now, or as a deliberate distraction a Trump insider.

At times Mr Trump paid no federal income taxes, according to news reports.

That includes at least two years in the late 1970s, the Washington Post reported last year citing a 1981 New Jersey gambling commission report.

The New York Times reported in October that Mr Trump declared a substantial loss in 1995 that could have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years afterward, based on records obtained by the newspaper.

During a September presidential debate, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton criticised Mr Trump for paying no federal income taxes.

"That makes me smart," he responded.

Reuters / Newshub.