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NY Times: Trump Paid Little or No Income Taxes

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a news conference at the White House, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington.
President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a news conference at the White House, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington.
NY Times: Trump Paid Little or No Income Taxes
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The New York Times published a detailed report Sunday about the tax records of U.S. President Donald Trump. The report said that Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency. In 2017, his first year in office, he also paid $750 in federal income taxes. The story said that he paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the 15 years before he won the presidency.

The newspaper said the information came from more than 20 years of tax documents that were given to its reporters from “sources with legal access.” The paper said it would not share the documents so as to protect its sources.

Alan Garten is a lawyer for the Trump Organization, the group of businesses owned or controlled by Trump. Garten said that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and asked for the documents on which they were based. When the newspaper refused, he said, “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.”

Shortly after the Times report appeared in publication, the president denounced the story as false during a Sunday press conference at the White House. He said, “I’ve paid a lot, and I paid a lot in state income taxes, too.”

Traditionally, U.S. presidential candidates have shared their tax records with the public. But for nearly four years, Trump has refused to do so. He has said that he will release his tax returns when they are no longer under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the federal agency responsible for collecting taxes.

Trump and his lawyers have fought several attempts by Democratic Party lawmakers and New York state officials to study his tax records.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, published his income tax returns on his campaign’s website. They show that he and his wife Jill paid $93,229 in federal income tax in 2016. The Bidens paid $3.7 million in 2017 and $1.5 million in 2018.

The front page of The New York Times with reports on the president's income taxes. (The New York Times)
The front page of The New York Times with reports on the president's income taxes. (The New York Times)

“Questionable measures” to reduce taxes

Between 2005 and 2007, the Times said Trump “paid substantial federal income taxes for the first time in his life: a total of $70.1 million.” The taxes were based on his earnings from the television show The Apprentice and licensing deals.

However, Trump then claimed his businesses were losing money. In 2010, he received $72.9 million from the federal government and another $21.2 million from local and state governments. The money is now subjected to investigation by the IRS.

The Times also said Trump used money from his businesses to pay for his family’s living expenses. Between 2010 and 2018, he also wrote off some $26 million in unexplained “consulting fees” as a business expense. The tax records did not identify who received the money.

The president and his business

Trump’s two sons, Eric and Trump, Junior, are said to operate the Trump family businesses, but their father is still the major owner of the Trump Organization.

Since 2016, the Times reported that foreign governments, business groups and people have spent large amount of money at the president’s properties. Overseas projects in the Philippines, India, Azerbaijan and Turkey also brought millions to the Trump Organization.

In 2017, while the president only paid $750 in U.S. federal income taxes, he and his businesses paid $15,598 in taxes to Panama, $145,400 to India and $156,824 to the Philippines.

Financial pressure to come

The tax records also show that Trump’s business has lost more than $315 million from his golf courses since 2000. And a hotel near the White House, opened in 2016, has lost more than $55 million.

The Times noted that Trump is responsible for paying back $421 million in loans to banks within four years. All of this will come at the time when many hotels, golf courses and office buildings are struggling to earn profits during the coronavirus health crisis. ​

Subjects for debate

Trump and Biden are making final preparations for the first presidential debate. They will meet in Ohio Tuesday night.

Reporter Chris Wallace will chair the debate. Wallace has listed several issues as possible subjects for the candidates to discuss. The New York Times report, however, will direct more attention to Trump, his taxes and businesses.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English based on The New York Times report. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

source - n. a person that gives information

access - n. a way of being able to use or getting something

inaccurate - adj. not correct or exact

decade - n. a period of 10 years

license - v. to permit the use of a name or property through an official agreement

expense - n. an amount of money that is needed to pay for something

fee - n. the amount of money that is paid for work done

golf course - n. a large area of land that is set up for the game of golf