US President Donald Trump paid extremely little in income taxes in recent years as heavy losses from his business enterprises offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing tax-return data.
The Times reported that Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, paid just $750 (A$1065) in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, and paid no income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years, despite receiving $427.4 million (A$607m) through 2018 from his reality television program and other endorsement and licensing deals.
Trump was able to minimise his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire. The Times reported Trump claimed $47.4 million(A$67.3m) in losses in 2018, despite claiming income of at least $434.9 million (A$617.7) in a financial disclosure that year.
Trump denied the report on Sunday, calling it "total fake news" at a White House news conference. In a statement to the Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organisation, said Trump had paid millions of dollars in personal taxes over the last decade, without weighing in on the specific income tax finding.
Trump has consistently refused to release his taxes, departing from standard practice for presidential candidates, saying they are under audit.
The Times said it had obtained tax-return data covering over two decades for Trump and companies within his business organisation. It did not have information about his personal returns from 2018 or 2019.
The Times also reported that Trump is currently embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million (A$103.5m) tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses. If the IRS rules against him in that audit, he could have to pay over $100 million ($A142m), according to the newspaper.
Trump’s bizarre business expense
According to The Times, Trump also spent almost $A100,000 to style his hair while appearing on his reality show The Apprentice and wrote it off as a business expense.
The explosive report claimed he spent exorbitant amounts of money on haircuts and styling, while nine Trump entities also claimed expenditure of more than $A100,000 on hair styling and a makeup artist for daughter Ivanka Trump.
Trump vows taxes ‘will all be revealed’
The disclosure, which the Times said comes from tax return data it obtained extending over two decades, comes at a pivotal moment ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday and weeks before a divisive election against Democrat Joe Biden.
The president vowed that information about his taxes “will all be revealed”, but he offered no timeline for the disclosure and made similar promises during the 2016 campaign on which he never followed through.
In fact, the president has fielded court challenges against those seeking access to his returns, including the US House, which is suing for access to Trump’s tax returns as part of congressional oversight.
During his first general election debate against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Clinton said that perhaps Trump wasn’t releasing his tax returns because he had paid nothing in federal taxes.
Trump interrupted her to say: “That makes me smart”.
With Reuters and AP
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