Highlights

  • Trump insists he ‘paid a lot’ in taxes after an investigation reveals new details about his personal finances
  • He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, the report reveals
  • The president said that he would not release his own tax returns because they are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service
  • Trump is the first modern president to refuse to make his tax returns public
  • The revelation has the potential to upset his presidential campaign with just over a month until Election Day

 

US President Donald Trump has denied that he paid only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, telling reporters that a lengthy examination of his tax information by The New York Times was “fake news” and that he paid “a lot” of taxes.

The denial came at a news conference at the White House on Sunday, after the New York Times (NYT) published an exposé on his tax records.

Mr. Trump said that he would not release his own tax returns because they are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Instead, he insisted that “I paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes to New York State.”

The examination of 20 years of Mr. Trump’s tax information by The Times revealed that Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

Tax Avoidance

The report states that the president had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, but has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Trump is the first modern president to refuse to make his tax returns public. He resisted repeated calls to do so during the 2016 presidential campaign, and, as president, he has waged a fierce legal battle to keep his tax and financial records private.

A CNN comparison of taxes paid by the past six US presidents and 2020 presidential aspirants shows that Trump has paid virtually nothing since becoming president.

The revelation that Mr. Trump paid so little in taxes as recently as 2017 has the potential to upset the presidential campaign with just over a month until Election Day and could reshape the first presidential debate, scheduled for Tuesday in Cleveland.

According to the NYT, the new documentation about the president’s finances — and the fact that he paid less in taxes than many of his most fervent supporters — will quite likely give Mr. Biden a new opportunity to put the president on the defensive in front of a large audience of viewers.

The publication also reports that Trump’s properties have become channels for collecting money from those lobbying for government favours.

Mr. Trump has cast himself as a populist champion of working-class and blue-collar Americans.

Mr. Biden and other Democrats are certain to seize on the fact that the president has paid so little in taxes as evidence that he has little real connection to the working-class people he claims to represent.

Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield told CNN on Sunday that the report clarified the contrast between the President and the Democratic nominee.

“You have in Donald Trump a President who spends his time thinking about how he can work his way out of paying taxes of meeting the obligation that every other working person in this country meets every year … with Joe Biden you have somebody who has a completely different perspective on what it means to be a working family in this country,” Bedingfield said.

 

Immunity

The Supreme Court ruled in July that the president could not block the district attorney’s subpoena for his financial records, rejecting Mr. Trump’s claim that, as a sitting president, he is immune from criminal investigation.

Separately, the Democrat-controlled Congress has been fighting in the courts for access to the president’s tax records as part of their own investigations.

 

NP/Tony Ekata/NYT/CNN

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