WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – US President Donald Trump paid just US$750 (S$1,032) in US income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, reported losing millions of dollars from his golf courses and has hundreds of millions in debt that will come due in the next few years, according to a report in the New York Times.
Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years because he generated large losses that offset any money that he made, according to the Times analysis of at least two decades worth of Mr Trump’s personal and business tax returns.
The documents show that many of Mr Trump’s businesses are struggling, with him putting more money into the firms than he’s taking out, the report said.
It also said he earned US$73 million abroad in his first two years in the White House, including from authoritarian-leaning countries such as the Philippines and Turkey, despite a pledge that he would pursue no new foreign deals while president.
Mr Trump said at a press conference Sunday (Sept 27) that the report is “totally fake news,” adding “I pay a lot” without offering specifics.
“They’re under audit and when they’re not, I would be proud to show you,” Mr Trump said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter to ask Americans to raise their hands if they paid more in federal income tax than Mr Trump.
Mr Trump bucked tradition in refusing to release his personal tax records, which had become standard among candidates for office in recent decades.
House Democrats have issued subpoenas for the documents, which have been mired in legal battles for more than a year.
The Supreme Court in July said lower courts need to to do more to scrutinize the tax return requests.
The Times didn’t disclose how it got the documents, but said the documents came from sources with legal access to the information.
A lawyer for Trump Organisation told the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate.”
Mr Alan Garten, the lawyer told the paper in response that “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.”
The revelations into Mr Trump’s financial life are likely to be a key point of contention heading into the final month of the presidential campaign.
Mr Trump, who has built his public image as a successful businessman and as a billionaire, faces a series of financial challenges, according to the Times reporting.
LOANS COMING DUE
His revenue from the NBC television series “The Apprentice” and from licensing deals is drying up.
Several years ago, he sold nearly all the stocks that now might have helped him plug holes in his struggling properties, the Times reported.
Within the next four years, more than US$300 million in loans – obligations for which Mr Trump is personally responsible – will come due, the newspaper said.
Mr Trump has previously said his tax returns are “very beautiful,” but he can’t release the documents while they are under audit at the Internal Revenue Service.
Mr Trump’s pick to run the agency, Mr Chuck Rettig, has said there’s no prohibition on making the documents public while an audit is ongoing.
The report found that Mr Trump has written off a long list of things he classified as business expenses, including US$70,000 to his hair stylist while appearing on “The Apprentice,” and more than US$95,000 for hair and makeup services for his daughter, Ms Ivanka Trump, who’s now a top White House aide.
The Times also reported that Mr Trump has treated an estate in Westchester County, New York, as an investment property for tax purposes, despite listing it as a “retreat for the Trump family.”
The Times report also found that Mr Trump may be using consulting fees as a way to pay his children. Between 2010 and 2018, Mr Trump deducted US$26 million in “consulting fees” as a business expense.
On her financial disclosure forms, Ms Ivanka Trump has reported consulting income that matched the figures on the tax returns.
That could potentially run afoul of IRS rules prohibiting exorbitantly overpaying consultants or regulations against skirting gift and inheritance taxes.
“It appears that the president has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes,” House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement.
Mr Neal’s committee is engaged in ongoing litigation to obtain Mr Trump’s tax returns.
Since he became president, Mr Trump has seen an increase in demand from some business groups for events and conferences at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, his Washington hotel, and the Doral resort in Miami.
Bank of America, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are among organisations that have hosted events at Mr Trump properties in recent years, the Times documents show.