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President Trump on Sunday dismissed a New York Times investigation into his taxes that was published earlier in the day, using a familiar retort of his: “fake news.”
The lengthy story found that Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes each year in 2016 and in 2017, and that he paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, as he reported massive losses to his businesses.
Among its other findings, the investigation also determined that Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in loans that are set to come due within the next four years — potentially his second term in office — and that he’s battling the Internal Revenue Service over a nearly $73 million tax refund he claimed. The Times said an “adverse ruling [in that audit case] could cost him more than $100 million.”
NPR has not confirmed any of the details from the filings; the Times didn’t post any of its source documents to protect sources, according to the story.
Asked about the report during a Sunday evening news conference, Trump refused to detail what he’s paid in federal income taxes, saying simply: “I’ve paid a lot.”
He said “it’ll all be revealed” when his tax returns can be released after audit — something he’s said for years. (In fact, an audit would not prevent the president from releasing his records.)
Trump has previously bragged about not paying taxes.
“That makes me smart,” he said in a 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton, when she accused him of not paying federal income taxes.
Some reductions in the president’s tax liability came from unexplained consulting fees, according to the report. The Times cites evidence that some of the fees may have been paid to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, though she was not an outside figure, given her role as a top official in the Trump Organization. If that were true, it could create further legal peril.
Responding to the Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the publication that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate.”
The Times says it obtained over 20 years of tax return data for Trump and the myriad companies that make up his organization.
Trump’s political opponents for years have sought his personal financial records, after he broke decades of presidential precedent by not voluntarily releasing his tax returns during the 2016 campaign or since.
Trump has also not divested from his family business, creating layers of financial entanglements and potential conflicts of interest, including business deals that could be subject to decisions by foreign leaders.
Last year, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., sued federal officials to try to obtain six years of Trump’s tax returns. In July of this year, the Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court.
“It appears that the President has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes,” Neal said in a statement Sunday evening. He added: “Our case is very strong, and we will ultimately prevail.”
The Times report was explicit that it did not find any previously unknown connections to Russia, something that critics of the president have speculated would be revealed in his tax returns.