Congressional Democrats released thousands of pages of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, providing the most detailed picture yet of his financial situation over six years, including his time in the White House. A figure on hiatus with decades of precedent.
The documents include the personal income of Trump and his wife Melania from 2015-2020, as well as Trump’s business entities. They show how Trump used the tax law to reduce his tax debt and disclose details about offshore accounts, charitable contributions and the performance of his high-profile business ventures.
The disclosure is the culmination of a years-long legal battle everywhere from the presidential campaign to Congress and the Supreme Court, in which Trump has consistently rebuffed attempts to share details of his financial history. Post-Watergate period. The release of the records comes days before Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives and weeks after Trump launched another campaign for the White House.
Records show how Trump limited his tax liability on corporate losses and millions of dollars in business expenses, property depreciation and other deductions.
While Trump paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015, the year he began running for president, he paid just $750 in 2016 and 2017, according to a report released last week by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation in congress. He paid out nearly $1 million in 2018, but only $133,445 in 2019 and nothing in 2020, the year he lost it.
The records also detail Trump’s foreign assets.
Trump said he had bank accounts in China, Ireland and the United Kingdom from 2015 to 2017, even while he was commander in chief, according to the filings. As of 2018, however, only one account was reported in the UK, and Trump claimed foreign tax credits for taxes he paid on numerous business ventures around the world, including licensing arrangements to use his name on development projects and golf. Courses in Scotland and Ireland. Over the years, Trump appears to have paid more in foreign taxes than he paid in net U.S. federal income taxes, with income going to countries like Azerbaijan, China, India, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, St. Maarten, Turkey and others. The United States. Arab Emirates.
Trump’s charitable donations fluctuated during his presidency, but in his later years, documents show, they accounted for only a small portion of his income. In 2020, the year the coronavirus devastated the economy, Trump announced that he would not make any charitable donations. In 2019 and 2018, he wrote checks for around $500,000 in donations. The number was higher in previous years – $1.8 million in 2017 and $1.1 million in 2016.
It is unclear whether the reported amounts include Trump’s $400,000 annual salary, which he has said he is giving up, and which he has said he has donated to various federal departments.
Jeff Hobbs, professor of accounting at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler Business School, described Trump’s taxes as “huge, complex returns with hundreds of companies spread around the world with complex business structures.” . “
He noted that many of those companies were quite unprofitable, which he described as “quite glamorous in terms of tax law.”
“It’s hard to tell if someone is really bad at work or really good at tax planning because they both look the same,” he said.
Daniel Chavero, a professor of taxation at New York University, pointed to the huge financial losses of many of Trump’s companies.
“He’s not a political figure, but if he’s a high-profile businessman, you really want to censor him,” Chaviro said. “These are things like fish.”
Chaviro cited examples of questionable or erratic math even in small companies, such as an airline called TT Endeavor LLC, which reported sales and expenses of $160,144 in 2020. Chaviro said such perfect matches are uncommon. The pattern still indicates a loss of $18,923.
“I don’t go back and say, ‘Guess what?'” Chaviro said. I’m cheating, but there are red flags.”
The release is the latest setback for Trump, who has been mired in investigations, including federal and state probes into efforts to rig the 2020 election. The Justice Department is also investigating reams of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago club and possible attempts to obstruct the investigation.
In a statement Friday, Trump criticized Democrats and the Supreme Court for the release.
“It can lead to terrible things for many people,” he said. “The Radical Democrats and the Left have weaponized everything, but remember, it’s a dangerous two-way street!”
He said the return proved “how proud I am of the success and how I was able to use depreciation and various tax deductions to build my business”.
The regular formal session of the House of Representatives on Friday is chaired by the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. Dan Baer said great care was taken to reduce personal and other identifying information and ensure revenue was handled sensitively.
“We’re trying to be very careful to make sure we’re not ‘weaponizing’ the IRS return,” said Baer, D-Virginia. Vote on the party line last week to post the comments.
The returns detail how Trump used the tax law to reduce his liability, including carrying forward large losses from prior years that the tax code allows. During his 2016 campaign, Trump said paying little or no income tax “makes me smarter some years”.
For example, in 2020, more than 150 Trump companies listed qualified negative business income, which the IRS defines as “the net amount of qualifying items of income, gains, deductions and losses from any qualifying trade or business.” In total for that tax year, Trump’s qualified losses totaled more than $58 million in the final year of his term, along with nearly $9 million in carryforward losses from prior years.
Another loser for Trump: His company operated an ice rink in New York City’s Central Park until last year. Trump claimed losses totaling $2.6 million from the Wollman episode over the six years it was made public. The track, the crown jewel of the early Trump Organization, which operates through a contract with New York government, posted a loss of $1.3 million in 2015 despite revenue of $9.3 million, according to tax returns. The track made $298,000 in profit in 2016, but returned to melting cash in each of the next four years.
Trump’s finances have been shrouded in mystery since he was a Manhattan real estate developer in the 1980s.
Trump, known for building skyscrapers and hosting a reality TV show before winning the White House, provided limited details about his assets and income on mandatory disclosure forms and financial statements to secure loans to banks and his situation to financial magazines justified. Ranking of billionaires in the world.
Trump’s accounting firm has long denied the reports, and New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump and his Trump Organization fraudulently inflated property values in the reports. Trump and his company have denied any wrongdoing.
In October 2018, The New York Times published a Pulitzer Prize-winning series that contradicted the image Trump tried to sell as a self-made businessman based on leaked tax records. The report showed Trump currently received the equivalent of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate holdings, and much of the money came from what the Times described as “tax evasion” in the 1990s.
The second series of 2020 shows that Trump has not paid income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years because he usually loses more money than he makes.
The Ways and Means Committee noted in its report last week that the Trump administration may have ignored a requirement to conduct an audit of the president’s tax returns.
The IRS began auditing Trump’s 2016 tax returns on April 3, 2019 — more than two years into his presidency — when Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, asked the agency for tax-related information. yields.
Every president and major party candidate since Richard Nixon has voluntarily made at least one publicly available summary of their tax information. Trump reversed that trend as a candidate and president, repeatedly insisting that his taxes were “under review” and could not be released.
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