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Trump paid just $750 in income taxes in 2016, per NYT bombshell

Published Sep 27th, 2020 6:56PM EDT
Donald Trump
Image: Al Drago - Pool via CNP/MEGA

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  • Calls for Donald Trump to release his tax returns publicly have dogged him since the 2016 campaign, with President Trump steadfastly resisting since then by saying he can’t release them because he’s under audit.
  • Critics have long suspected that President Trump has resisted releasing the tax returns because they might show everything from negative news about his personal wealth to the possibility of some sort of previously undisclosed connection to Russia.
  • On Sunday, The New York Times released the results of a bombshell investigation that shows, among other things, that the president paid $0 in federal income taxes for 10 of the last 15 years.

Two days ahead of the first presidential debate — on Tuesday, September 29 — which will see Donald Trump and Joe Biden clash in what will likely be among the most-watched presidential debates ever, The New York Times dropped the results of a bombshell investigation on Sunday: Details of Trump’s long-hidden tax returns, which are finally here.

Among the headline results: The president apparently paid no federal income tax at all for 10 of the last 15 years. In the year he won the presidency, the Times reports he paid a grand total of just $750, and another $750 the following year, his first in the White House. Intriguingly, the Times also notes, the Trump filings don’t “reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.”

A representative for the president, naturally, pushed back hard against the Times report, which quotes his opposition to the findings. For example, there are gaps in what the NYT reporters were able to surface, such as the fact that they were not able to obtain Trump’s personal tax returns for the last two years (2018 and 2019). Accordingly, a lawyer for the Trump Organization seized on that element (personal taxes) to defend the president thus in a statement given to the newspaper:

“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.”

Of course, paying zero dollars in income taxes over the course of a year puts the president in the company of marquee companies like Amazon, which in 2018 paid $0 in federal taxes. The Times‘ reporting, meanwhile, says that these findings are important because they undercut the president’s argument for getting elected in the first place — that he’s a successful businessman who would bring a businessman’s touch to running the country:

“The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the IRS portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes.”

The President stopped up to a podium to host a press conference Sunday afternoon in the minutes after the NYT story was posted online. Almost 30 minutes into the press conference, a reporter finally asked the president for a comment about the NYT tax returns story: “Fake news. Totally fake news. Made up. Fake … The IRS does not treat me well. They treat me very badly.”

Trump went on to insist he’s paid a lot of money in state as well as federal taxes, and that it would all be revealed once his audit by the IRS is finished.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.