Trump Income Taxes: Top seven revelations from New York Times report

David Jackson
Lake Sun Leader
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Phoenix, Ariz.

The New York Times on Sunday published the first in a series of stories based on President Donald Trump's tax returns, citing tax documents and data spanning two decades.

The president dismissed the reports as "fake news" but demurred when asked if he would finally make his returns public. Trump is the first presidential candidate not to share his tax filings in four decades. 

The bottom line from the Times report: Trump has had small federal tax bills and major financial losses during his business career, and some of his tax maneuvers have come under legal scrutiny.

Among The New York Times' findings:

Trump paid very little to no federal income taxes

In some years Trump paid no taxes at all, thanks to business losses and write-offs that have come into question.

The Times: "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. 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."

Trump paid more to other countries than US

The Times: "In 2017, the president’s $750 contribution to the operations of the U.S. government was dwarfed by the $15,598 he or his companies paid in Panama, the $145,400 in India and the $156,824 in the Philippines."

Trump faces a crunch

The IRS audit could force Trump to pay a massive tax bill, on top of millions in personally guaranteed loan debts that are coming due soon.

The Times: "His finances are under stress, 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."

Trump claimed a $72.9 million refund

A decade ago, Trump claimed a $72.9 million refund and that refund is the prime subject of an IRS audit.

The Times: "In fact, confidential records show that starting in 2010 he claimed, and received, an income tax refund totaling $72.9 million – all the federal income tax he had paid for 2005 through 2008, plus interest. The legitimacy of that refund is at the center of the audit battle that he has long been waging, out of public view, with the I.R.S."

Trump wrote off up to $26 million in 'consulting fees'

The Times: "Examining the Trump Organization’s tax records, a curious pattern emerges: Between 2010 and 2018, Mr. Trump wrote off some $26 million in unexplained 'consulting fees' as a business expense across nearly all of his projects."

Trump paid high taxes other years, due to AMT 

The Times: The alternative minimum tax was "created as a tripwire to prevent wealthy people from using huge deductions, including business losses, to entirely wipe out their tax liabilities. 

"Mr. Trump paid alternative minimum tax in seven years between 2000 and 2017 – a total of $24.3 million, excluding refunds he received after filing. For 2015, he paid $641,931, his first payment of any federal income tax since 2010."

Trump writes off massive 'business expenses' 

Trump's deducted high operating costs from his various companies, such as the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Times: "As a business, (Mar-a-Lago) is also the source of millions of dollars in expenses deducted from taxable income, among them $109,433 for linens and silver and $197,829 for landscaping in 2017."