Just in time for the election and Tuesday’s presidential debates, The New York Times “has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office,” the newspaper said today in a surprise development in the presidential race.
While The Times hasn’t been able to obtain the president’s tax returns for the past two years, the information that they did manage to get ahold of will reverberate throughout the remainder of Donald Trump’s term.
The New York Times tempered public expectations of what the tax data actually reveals by prefacing their initial report on the info with this disclaimer.
“By their very nature, the filings will leave many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled. They comprise information that Mr. Trump has disclosed to the I.R.S., not the findings of an independent financial examination,” the newspaper wrote, referencing the possibility that Trump is as untruthful in his tax filings as he is in everyhting that spills forth from his lips.
Still, the filings themselves reveal some facts that may prove damaging to Trump as he tries to turn his failing poll numbers around as early voting has already begun in some states.
The most shocking confirmation of what you likely already suspected is the fact that in 2016 and 2017 — the year he was running for the presidency and his first year in office — Trump only paid $750 in federal taxes, much less than many less wealthy Americans paid to the federal government.
That was a major outlay for the president considering that the tax data also shows that “He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made,” as The Times writes.
The article portrays Trump as financially stressed and “beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed.”
“Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million,” The New York Times explains.
“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 I.R.S. 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. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president,” the article continues.
In a finding that may prove to be disappointing to the president’s political opponents, after reviewing the data, the reporters found no additional evidence of any previously unreported connections to Russia, although the reported connections already on the public radar more than demonstrate sufficient contacts with Russian money sources to raise questions about what kind of influence the Kremlin has had on Trump’s actions and policies.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, responded to media disclosure of the president’s tax info by claiming that “most, if not all, of the facts” in the newspaper’s possession “appear to be inaccurate.”
“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,” the Trump Organization lawyer said in a statement.
The New York Times countered with the following rebuttal:
“With the term “personal taxes,” however, Mr. Garten appears to be conflating income taxes with other federal taxes Mr. Trump has paid — Social Security, Medicare and taxes for his household employees. Mr. Garten also asserted that some of what the president owed was “paid with tax credits,” a misleading characterization of credits, which reduce a business owner’s income-tax bill as a reward for various activities, like historic preservation,” the Times’ reporters write.
The article goes on to analyze the details of the president’s tax data, including a mysterious “$26 million in unexplained ‘consulting fees’ as a business expense across nearly all of his projects.”
Trump himself replied to the allegations in the article this afternoon at his press briefing, where he essentially relied on his standard dodge that The New York Times is “Fake News” and not to be believed.
Listen to this pathetically weak pushback on the New York Times report about his tax returns. Trump is a con man. pic.twitter.com/be15BS005Z
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 27, 2020
The Times, for their part, promises to mine the data in order to publish additional findings in the days ahead
You can read the entire New York Times article to see the details of what they’ve already found in their initial perusal of the info they’ve obtained here. (Paywall, subscription may be required.)
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.