Donald Trump paid just $750 (£590) in federal income taxes in 2016 – the year he was elected, according to The New York Times.
An investigation by the newspaper also claimed that he didn’t pay any income tax at all in 10 of the 15 years before he became president.
The report came just weeks before a divisive election, with early voting already underway. It is also claimed that his tax bill also came to just $750 in 2017 during his first year in office.
When inquired about the report in his daily briefing, Mr. Donald Trump said that “It’s totally fake news, made up, fake. Actually, I paid tax.”
The US President insisted his tax details would be released when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) finishes its audit. “They have been under audit for some time,” he added. “The IRS treats me very badly.”
A legal advisor for the Trump Organisation told the newspaper that “most, if not all, of the facts, appears to be inaccurate”. He said in a statement that the president “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 NY Times report also claims Mr. Donald Trump was able to minimize his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire. It said he claimed $47.4m (£37.1m) in losses in 2018, despite saying he had an income of at least $434.9m (£340.7m) in a financial disclosure that year.
The US president’s consistent refusal to release his tax returns has been a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates.
He is recently in a legal tussle with New York City prosecutors and congressional Democrats who are seeking to obtain his returns.
In 2016, during a presidential debate, Mrs Clinton said that perhaps Mr. Donald Trump was not releasing his tax returns because he had paid nothing in federal taxes.
While Mr. Donald Trump interrupted her to say: “That makes me smart.” Tax dodging is not a good look, surely not in an election campaign.
Demanding a public to lend you its vote is not made easier by asking its taxpayers to pay taxes but you don’t surely not when you are the president of the United States.
That is the picture painted by the New York Times report. The tax dodger asking (another) favor of the taxpayer, for four more years in the White House.
Much of America reeled in dismay.
Enough people view tax avoidance as acceptable and victimless to soften the impact on the core vote despite Mr. Trump has never been able to score well on integrity and honesty anyway.
It could harm him in the eyes of the undecided and less committed, however. There is a strong trace of dishonesty, yes, but there is also the exposure of serial financial loss by a man feted as a corporate genius.
For him, that’s the part in all this that will surely be most excruciating whereas to the voter, it might be grounds to re-evaluate his reputation.
The recent revelations play into Joe Biden’s framing of the election as “Scranton vs Park Avenue.”
The Scranton-born contender needs to consolidate and win new support in Democratic heartland, in America’s ‘rust belt’, in Main Street USA and this might well be a win with the working-class vote.
The debate preparations of Democrats could well include questions over the financial loss, taxes, and how a president in need of hard cash can guarantee national security in his effort to find it.