Trump returns reveal tax offsets and foreign accounts

(AP) — Congressional Democrats on Friday released thousands of pages of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, providing the most detailed look yet at his finances over six years, including his time in the White House, when He has worked hard to break decades of precedent by keeping information private.

The documents include personal returns from 2015 to 2020 for Trump, his wife, Melania, and Trump’s business entities. They show how Trump is using the tax code to lower his tax liability and reveal details about foreign accounts, charitable donations and the performance of some of his most high-profile businesses, which have remained largely immune to public scrutiny.

The disclosure marks the culmination of a years-long legal battle that has spanned from the presidential campaign to Congress and the Supreme Court, as Trump has resisted efforts to share details about his financial history — a departure from the All his predecessors in the post-Watergate era. The record release comes days before Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives and weeks after Trump announced he was running for the White House again.

The records show how Trump limited his tax liability by offsetting company losses as well as millions of dollars in business expenses, depreciation of assets and other deductions.

While Trump paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015, the year he began his campaign for president, he paid just $750 in 2016 and 2017, according to a report released last week. Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. He paid nearly $1 million in 2018, only $133,445 in 2019 and nothing in 2020, when he lost his re-election bid.

The records also detail Trump’s foreign assets.

The documents show that Trump claimed to have bank accounts in China, Ireland and the United Kingdom between 2015 and 2017, even when he was commander in chief. However, from 2018, he only reported one account in the UK. The returns also show that Trump claimed foreign tax credits for taxes paid by his various business ventures around the world, including licensing arrangements to use his name on development projects and his golf courses in Scotland and Ireland. course.

For several years, Trump appears to have paid more foreign taxes than he paid net U.S. federal income taxes, reporting income from countries including Azerbaijan, China, India, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, San Maarten, Turkey and the United States. united arab emirates.

The documents also show that Trump’s charitable contributions typically represent a small percentage of his income. In 2020, the year the coronavirus ravaged the economy, Trump reported no charitable donations at all. In 2019 and 2018, he reportedly wrote donation checks for about $500,000. In earlier years, the figure was higher — $1.8 million in 2017 and $1.1 million in 2016.

It was unclear whether the reported amount included Trump’s $400,000 annual presidential salary, which he has said he would give up as a candidate and which he claims he donates to various federal departments.

Jeff Hopps, an accounting professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler School of Business, described Trump’s return as “large and complex,” with “hundreds of entities spread across the globe.”

He noted that many of these entities were slightly unprofitable, which he described as “pretty magical in terms of tax law.”

“It’s hard to know if someone is really bad at doing business or really good at tax planning because they seem to be the same thing,” he said.

Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at New York University, noted that many of Trump’s businesses have suffered large financial losses despite generally healthy sales, which should raise suspicions among auditors. “There’s something suspicious here.”

Shaviro also cited examples of questionable or sloppy math even in smaller businesses, such as an airline called “DT Endeavor I LLC,” which reported $160,144 in both sales and expenses in 2020. This exact match is unusual, Shaviro said. However, the form also reported a loss of US$18,923.

“The returns didn’t say, ‘Guess what? I’m fraudulent,'” Shaviro said, “but there were red flags.”

The release marks the latest setback for Trump, who has been mired in investigations, including federal and state, into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The Justice Department has also been investigating a trove of classified documents discovered at his Mar-a-Lago club and possible efforts to thwart the investigation.

In a statement Friday, Trump lashed out at Democrats and the Supreme Court for his release.

“It’s going to have dire consequences for a lot of people,” he said. “The Radical Left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, it’s a dangerous two-way street!”

The returns show “how proudly I’ve been successful and how I’ve been able to take advantage of depreciation and various other tax breaks” to build his business, he said.

The returns came after the House Ways and Means Committee held a partisan vote last week to make them public after years of legal wrangling.

The returns detail how Trump has used the tax code to minimize his liability, including carrying forward huge losses from previous years. During the 2016 campaign, Trump said paying little or no income tax in certain years “makes me smart.”

In 2020, more than 150 of Trump’s business entities listed negative qualifying business income, which the IRS defines as “the net amount of income, gains, deductions and losses from any qualifying trade or business for qualifying items.” The total for that tax year, plus nearly $9 million in carryforward losses from previous years, brings Trump’s qualifying losses to a total of more than $58 million.

Another loser for Trump: the ice rink his company operated in New York City’s Central Park until last year. Trump reported that Wollman Rink lost a total of $2.6 million over the six years it was made public. The rink, an early jewel of the Trump Organization, was run through a contract with New York City and lost $1.3 million in 2015 despite bringing in $9.3 million in revenue, according to tax returns. The rink turned a $298,000 profit in 2016, but shrunk in each of the next four years.

“Trump appears to be doing a huge amount of damage, which is questionable or questionable under current law,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. He said he spent 20 Years to prepare taxes for corporations and the wealthy, “Never seen anyone lose money as often and as big year after year like Trump.”

“Trump’s business operations have been so unsuccessful to me that I’m having a hard time figuring out how much of that is due to Trump’s misfortune as a businessman and how much is due to Trump’s inflation,” he said.

Trump’s finances have been shrouded in mystery since his days as a budding Manhattan real estate developer in the 1980s.

Trump, known for building skyscrapers and hosting reality TV shows before winning the White House, provided limited details about his property and income in mandatory disclosure forms and financial statements that he provided to banks to obtain loans and to Financial Magazine to prove that he is on the billionaires list.

Trump’s longtime accounting firm has since denied the statements, and New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing Trump and his Trump Organization of fraudulently inflating asset values ​​in those statements. Trump and his company have denied wrongdoing.

In October 2018, The New York Times published a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces based on leaked tax records that contradicted Trump’s attempts to sell himself as a self-made businessman. It shows that Trump received at least $413 million in modern value from real estate held by his father, much of it from what the New York Times called “tax evasion” in the 1990s.

The second series for 2020 shows that Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the past 15 years because he typically lost more money than he made.

In a report last week, the Ways and Means Committee said the Trump administration may ignore a request for an audit of the president’s tax filings.

The IRS did not start auditing Trump’s 2016 tax returns until April 3, 2019 — more than two years after he became president — when Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., asked This agency provides information related to the declaration form.

Every presidential and major party candidate since Richard Nixon has voluntarily released at least a summary of their tax information to the public.

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