Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have followed through on a vow to release six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, giving the American public new insight into his business dealings and drawing threats of retaliation from congressional Republicans.
The documents released Friday morning contain thousands of pages of tax documents, including the personal returns of Trump and his wife, Melania, and several of the hundreds of companies that make up the real estate mogul’s sprawling business organization business reporting form. Returns can be downloaded through the House Ways and Means Committee website.
The committee released key details of the returns this month showing that Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes in his first three years as president, including just $750 in 2017, his first year in office. He paid no taxes in 2020 due to reduced income and increased business losses.
These documents contain new details not disclosed in those earlier versions. New York Times reporters were combing through the pages for key takeaways. This is a list.
As a 2015 presidential candidate, Trump said he wouldn’t take “a dollar” of the $400,000 salary the job brought in. “If I became president, I would give up my salary completely,” he said.
During his first three years in office, Trump said he donated his salary quarterly. But in 2020, his final year in office, documents show Trump reported $0 in charitable giving.
Also in 2020, Trump reported severe business losses and no federal tax liability as the pandemic recession quickly receded.
In earlier years, White House officials singled out which government agencies received the money, starting with the National Park Service in 2017. Tax documents released Friday showed that Trump’s reported charitable giving totaled nearly $1.9 million in 2017, just ahead of the $500,000 he made in both 2018 and 2019.
Trump reported nearly $16 million in business losses in 2020, which swamped his other income and left him with no federal income tax liability. But tax documents show he paid nearly $14 million in taxes to the federal government during the year.
The payments made it possible for him to receive a large income tax refund from the government — as many taxpayers find out when they file their taxes each March. Trump, for his part, chose not to accept the full refund available to him. He requested a refund of just under $5.5 million, then directed the IRS to claim an additional $8 million in his 2021 estimated taxes.
The tax law that Trump signed into law in late 2017 and took effect the following year included provisions likely to give him an advantage when paying taxes — including scaling back the alternative minimum tax for high earners.
But one provision in particular sharply reduced the income tax cuts Trump could claim in 2018 and beyond: Republicans placed limits on the cuts for state and local taxes already paid.
In high-tax cities and states such as New York, the so-called SALT tax cut has hit high earners, including Trump, disproportionately. In 2019, he reported paying $8.4 million in state and local taxes. Because of the SALT limitation contained in his tax code, he can only deduct $10,000 in taxes on his federal income tax return.
Those losses could have been mitigated, at least in part, by other parts of the law that favored wealthy taxpayers like Trump.
Friday’s release of the documents sparked a fresh round of attacks on Capitol Hill between Democrats and Republicans, including threats to escalate — politically motivated — releases of private tax information in the future.
Democrats see the move as necessary oversight for a president who has broken with decades of precedent for refusing to release returns.
“Trump acts as if he has something to hide, a pattern that echoes the recent arrest of his family business for criminal tax fraud,” Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. Consistent with the conviction.” . “As the public will now be able to see, Trump used questionable or insufficiently substantiated deductions and a host of other tax avoidance schemes to justify paying little or no federal income tax in the years under review. “
But Republicans, who won control of the House of Representatives last November, have warned Democrats that they have begun down a dangerous path and that public pressure could prompt the incoming majority to release President Joe Biden’s family or a broad range of other personal payoffs.
“Going forward, all future chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have near-unlimited powers to target and release the tax returns of private citizens, political opponents, business and labor leaders, and even the Supreme Court. Ven Brady is the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, he said in a statement Friday.
Trump weighed in late Friday morning in an emailed statement that also raised threats of retaliation.
“Democrats should never have done this, the Supreme Court should never have approved it, and it would have dire consequences for a lot of people,” he said. “America’s great divide is now going to get even worse. The Radical Left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, it’s a dangerous two-way street!”
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