North America

Donald Trump dismisses report he paid no tax during 10 of last 15 years as 'totally fake news'

United States President Donald Trump holds a news briefing at the White House on 28 September, 2020. Source: AAP

President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, according to the New York Times.

US President Donald Trump paid just $750 USD in federal income taxes in 2016, The New York Times has reported, citing tax return data extending more than 20 years.

The report found he also paid only $750 in his first year in the White House, and he had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing much more money than he made.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Trump dismissed the report as "totally fake news, made up, fake." 

"First of all, I paid a lot and I paid a lot of state income taxes too... It'll all be revealed," Mr Trump said, citing an ongoing audit as his reason for not releasing his returns.

"They've been under audit for a long time...and when they're not, I would be proud to show it."

0:00
WATCH: Donald Trump dismisses income tax claims
WATCH: Donald Trump dismisses income tax claims

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances, but every one since Richard Nixon has done so.

Mr Trump has broken with presidential tradition by refusing to release his returns, fighting a long battle in the courts and fueling speculation about what they might contain.

His tax returns, a key talking point in the 2016 election, have been a constant presence during his presidency and ahead of November's election, when Mr Trump is seeking a second term.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter to ask Americans to raise their hands if they paid more in federal income tax than Trump.

Heavy losses

The New York Times said the tax data that it had seen "provides a road map of revelations, from write-offs for the cost of a criminal defense lawyer and a mansion used as a family retreat to a full accounting of the millions of dollars the president received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow."

The records "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image," it added.

Despite reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in income, the New York Times found Mr Trump effectively erased his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business interests.

Mr Trump reported losing over $315 million on golf courses since 2000, with much of that centered at Trump National Doral near Miami. 

The Trump National Doral clubhouse in Doral, Florida, as seen in 2016.
The Trump National Doral clubhouse in Doral, Florida, as seen in 2016.

The Times report also found that Mr Trump has been feuding with the Internal Revenue Service for the last decade over a nearly $73 million tax refund he previously claimed.

If the IRS were to prevail in its audit, which has seemingly stalled in recent years, the President could be responsible for paying over $100 million to the government.

The Times report found a large amount of Mr Trump's profits came from selling himself.

It reported that the former reality television star reported making a combined $427.4 million from 2004 to 2018 by selling his name and image through various endorsements and licensing deals.

Mr Trump has been aggressive in claiming certain business expenses that further shrank his tax bill, according to the Times.

That includes $70,000 in hairstyling expenses tied to "The Apprentice," his former television program, and classifying a New York property described by the Trump Organization as a family retreat as an investment property to write off millions in property taxes. 

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organisation, told The New York Times 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."

Additional reporting: Reuters

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch