World

Trump paid little or no tax for years: New York Times

New York Times publishes US President's unreleased tax-return data, but he calls it 'fake news'

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump paid just US$750 (S$1,030) in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing tax-return data.

In a report that Mr Trump dismissed as "fake news", the Times said the Republican president also paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years through 2017, despite receiving US$427.4 million through 2018 from his reality television programme and other endorsement and licensing deals.

The disclosure of previously private tax information came little more than a month before the Nov 3 election in which Mr Trump faces Democrat Joe Biden.

Democrats were quick to seize on the report to paint Mr Trump as a tax dodger and raise questions about his carefully groomed image as a savvy businessman.

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.

Calling the report "total fake news" at a White House news conference, Mr Trump again cited an ongoing audit as his reason for not releasing his returns.

In a statement to the New York Times, Mr Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organisation, said Mr Trump had paid millions of dollars in personal taxes over the last decade, without weighing in on the specific finding of minimal income taxes.

Mr Trump's consistent refusal to release his taxes has been a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates.

He is currently in a legal battle with New York City prosecutors and congressional Democrats who are seeking to obtain his returns.

He has also previously indicated that he preferred to minimise his tax bill, saying in a 2016 presidential debate it made him "smart".

The New York Times reported that Mr Trump was able to minimise his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire.

It said he claimed US$47.4 million in losses in 2018, despite saying he had income of at least $434.9 million in a financial disclosure that year.

The report comes just as Mr Trump readies to battle Mr Biden in a live debate today.

Millions in the US will watch as the two - who call each other a threat to the country - take each other on. - REUTERS

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