US President Donald Trump paid just US$750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House, according to a report Sunday in The New York Times.
Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only president in modern times not to make them public, apaid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing much more money than he made, the newspaper said. He campaigned for office as a billionaire real-estate mogul and successful businessman.
Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Trump dismissed the report as “totally fake news” and said he has paid taxes, though he gave no specifics.
The disclosure, which The New York Times said comes from tax return data it obtained extending over two decades, comes at a pivotal moment ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday and weeks before a divisive election against Democrat Joe Biden.
The former reality TV star vowed that information about his taxes “will all be revealed.” But he offered no timeline for the disclosure and made similar promises during the 2016 campaign on which he never followed through.
In fact, the president has fielded court challenges against those seeking access to his returns, including the US House of Representatives, which is suing for access to Trump's tax returns as part of congressional oversight. US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances, but every one since Richard Nixon has done so.
The New York Times said the tax data that it had seen "provides a road map of revelations, from write-offs for the cost of a criminal defence lawyer and a mansion used as a family retreat to a full accounting of the millions of dollars the president received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow."
The records "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image," it added.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment from news agencies.
Garten told the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate.” He said in a statement to the news organisation that "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.”
During his first general election debate against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Clinton said that perhaps Trump wasn't releasing his tax returns because he had paid nothing in federal taxes.
Trump interrupted her to say, "That makes me smart.”