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Trump paid $1.1 million in taxes during presidency, but $0 in 2020, report shows

Trump paid $1.1 million in taxes during presidency, but $0 in 2020, report shows

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During his first three years as President, Donald J. Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes before not paying taxes as his income declined and losses increased again in 2020, according to tax data released Tuesday by a House committee.

The data, which includes details of Mr. Trump’s federal tax returns from 2015 through his entire tenure in the White House, shows that he began his presidency suffering heavy business losses that have defined much of his career and not paid almost nothing in income tax. But his fortunes changed in 2018, as he reported $24.3 million in adjusted gross income and paid nearly $1 million in federal tax.

Mr. Trump’s tax returns show he was in the black again the following year, reporting $4.4 million in income and paying $133,445 in tax. But in 2020, as the country reeled from the coronavirus pandemic, his finances reversed course: Mr. Trump posted a $4.8 million loss and zero income tax.

The fresh details on Mr. Trump’s taxes emerged from two reports released late Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee, which had been fighting a legal battle to obtain Internal Revenue Service records that went all the way to the Supreme Court . The reports contain the summary of the commission’s findings, but not the raw tax returns, which are expected to be released in the coming days.

The new information adds to what is publicly known about Mr. Trump’s income tax history, something he has fought for years to keep hidden. Two years ago, The New York Times detailed data from tax returns lasting more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization. These records tell a fundamentally different story than the one he sold the American public.

His reports to the IRS portray a businessman who earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year but accumulates chronic losses that he aggressively uses to avoid paying taxes. But while the personal income tax data analyzed by The Times covers only his first year in the White House, 2017, the information released Tuesday spans his entire presidency.

As previously reported by The Times, Mr. Trump paid just $750 in federal income tax and reported $12.9 million in losses in his first year as president, in keeping with a long pattern of reporting losses and paying of little or no taxes. Recently released figures show that in 2018, his sudden burst of income was mainly due to him selling properties or investments for a profit of $22 million. He also appears to have exhausted the business losses he carried forward year after year to reduce his taxable income. The exact source of the profit is not clear from the reports.

By 2020, however, Mr. Trump was back to reporting losses. In fact, despite capital gains that boosted his profit in 2018, all of his core businesses — mostly real estate, golf courses and hotels — continued to post losses each year totaling $60 million during his presidency. He was able to recover $5.47 million because he had made millions of dollars in estimated tax payments that he ultimately did not owe.

Tuesday’s report also raises questions about some of Mr. Trump’s business practices, and the panel has asked the IRS to further investigate some of them. Among them are his charitable donations.

Tax records previously obtained by The Times show that Mr. Trump did significant charitable donations over the years, but most of it came in the form of land grants, often after he had exhausted his efforts to develop it.

The new tax records showed that while in the White House, Mr. Trump made charitable cash contributions, something the House committee said warranted further investigation.

“We would ask whether large cash contributions are supported by the necessary justification,” the report said.

The Times’ findings were cited several times in the report and helped shape the direction of the committee’s investigation.

For example, Mr. Trump owns an estate in Westchester County, New York called Seven Springs. For years it was classified as a private residence. Tax records obtained in 2020 by The Times show that in 2014, Mr. Trump reclassified the property as an investment property.

Since then, he’s written off $2.2 million in property taxes as a business expense — even though the law only allows people to write off $10,000 in property taxes a year.

On Tuesday, the committee revealed that the IRS is looking into this tax maneuver.

The reports also show that Mr. Trump continues to collect large amounts of interest income, totaling $38.1 million during his presidency. They did not disclose the source of that income, but tax returns previously obtained by The Times show that in 2017, almost all of his interest income came from his share of profits earned by a partnership controlled by Vornado Realty Trust .

The partnership owns two valuable office towers: 1290 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan; and 555 California Street in San Francisco. Mr Trump, who has a 30 per cent stake in the partnership, has no power over its management and it has always been its best-performing asset.

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