Donald Trump's Tax Returns Show Persistent Losses, Years of Tax Avoidance

President Donald Trump's tax return information reveals a businessman who takes in millions of dollars but racks up astronomic losses to avoid paying taxes, according to a bombshell new report by The New York Times on Sunday. The reporting gives an unprecedented look at Trump's tax information, which he has repeatedly refused to make public since he began his first presidential campaign in 2015. The report paints a vastly different picture of Trump's businesses than the billionaire image sold to the American public since his days on The Apprentice.

According to the Times, Trump paid $750 in income tax in 2016 and another $750 in 2017, his first year in the White House. However, he did not pay income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing more money than he made. Trump is also still in a battle with the IRS over a $72.9 million tax refund he claimed, despite reporting huge losses. If the IRS rules against him, it could cost him over $100 million.

The Times obtained tax return data from the past two decades for Trump and the companies involved in his business organization. The collection of data includes information from Trump's first two years as president, but not the 2018 and 2019 returns. The Times said more information would be published in the coming days, with just barely over a month until the November election.

Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten said, "most, if not all, of the facts, appear to be inaccurate" when presented with a summary of the Times' report. After the Times did not provide Garten with the records to protect its sources, Garten took issue with the reporting of the taxes Trump paid. "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 told the paper.

According to the Times, the "personal taxes" Garten referred to maybe the other federal taces Trump pays, like Social Security, Medicate, and tax for household employees. Garten said Trump paid some of the taxes he owed with "tax credits," which the Times described as a "misleading characterization of credits, which reduce a business owner's income-tax bill as a reward for various activities, like historic preservation."

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In the past, Trump has suggested that the annual financial disclosures he makes as president would be more valuable than his tax returns. However, the Times notes that these reports only include revenue, not profit. In 2018, Trump said he made at least $434.9 million, but the tax records showed $47.7 million in losses. The Times also reports that Trump owes more than $300 million in loans, and they will come due "within the next four years."

During a press conference on Sunday, Trump dismissed the Times report as "fake news." He again repeated that he is "under audit," which he says prevents him from releasing his tax returns, although the IRS has refuted this. In 2016, Trump became the first presidential nominee since 1976, not to release his tax returns.