The New York Times has obtained Donald Trump’s tax information covering the past two decades and found that the president has paid a total of $1,500 in federal taxes since taking office and paid no income tax at all 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing more money than he made each year.
President Trump has avoided releasing his tax records since before he secured the Republican nomination, but the New York Times reported Sunday that his tax information reveals his finances have been in trouble for 20-plus years.
Among the issues, the New York Times says Trump is “beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed” and an audit disagreement with the IRS over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he received after claiming a loss.
The tax return data the New York Times obtained covers the hundreds of companies that fall under Trump’s business organization’s umbrella and does not include his personal returns from 2018 or 2019.
If the IRS rules against him, it could cost Trump more than $100 million, the Times reports.
The filings show what Trump “has disclosed to the I.R.S., not the findings of an independent financial examination. They report that Mr. Trump owns hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable assets, but they do not reveal his true wealth. Nor do they reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.”
“Most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told The Times in a letter summarizing its findings. Garten requested a copy of the documents on which the report is based but the outlet declined the request.
“Over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015,” Garten said in a statement.
That assessment is struck down by The Times, which says Garten is combining income taxes with other federal taxes Trump paid, such as Social Security, Medicare and taxes for his household employees. Garten also stressed that some of what the president owed was “paid with tax credits.”
The Times writes, “Together with related financial documents and legal filings, the records offer the most detailed look yet inside the president’s business empire. They reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image — honed through his star turn on ‘The Apprentice’ — that helped propel him to the White House and that still undergirds the loyalty of many in his base.”
It adds, “Ultimately, Mr. Trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life.”
The team of New York Times reporters combed through the personal and corporate tax records for President Trump and his businesses in the U.S. and abroad, stretching from his time as a New York real estate developer to the beginning of his presidency. Additional articles are to come as they uncover more information in the documents.
“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a letter to the public.
“As a candidate and as president, Mr. Trump has said he wanted to make his tax returns public, but he has never done so. In fact, he has fought relentlessly to hide them from public view and has falsely asserted that he could not release them because he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service,” Baquet went on.
“The records show a significant gap between what Mr. Trump has said to the public and what he has disclosed to federal tax authorities over many years. They also underscore why citizens would want to know about their president’s finances: Mr. Trump’s businesses appear to have benefited from his position, and his far-flung holdings have created potential conflicts between his own financial interests and the nation’s diplomatic interests.”
The New York Times had previously obtained Trump’s 1995 tax records, which suggested his $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax return could have “allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.” According to its reporting, the mismanagement of three Trump Atlantic City casinos, his failed venture in the airline business and a badly timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan caused the massive financial loss — but equally massive tax break.