Trump’s Financial Records Show Long History of Tax Avoidance

President Trump, accompanied by his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, held a news conference at the White House minutes after The Times published a major new investigation into his tax returns.

Trump insists he ‘paid a lot’ in taxes after an investigation reveals new details about his personal finances.

Trump’s Financial Records Show Long History of Tax Avoidance
President Trump denied on Sunday that he paid only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, telling reporters that a lengthy examination of his tax information by The New York Times was “fake news” and that he paid “a lot” of taxes.

At a news conference at the White House on Sunday, Mr. Trump said that he would not release his own tax returns because they are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Instead, he insisted that “I paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes to New York State.”

The examination of 20 years of Mr. Trump’s tax information by The Times revealed that Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

Mr. Trump is the first modern president to refuse to make his tax returns public. He resisted repeated calls to do so during the 2016 presidential campaign, and, as president, he has waged a fierce legal battle to keep his tax and financial records private.

The revelation that Mr. Trump paid so little in taxes as recently as 2017 has the potential to roil the presidential campaign with just over a month until Election Day and could reshape the first presidential debate, scheduled for Tuesday in Cleveland. Mr. Trump signaled again Sunday night that he planned to unleash a barrage of personal attacks on Mr. Biden.

But the new documentation about the president’s finances — and the fact that he paid less in taxes than many of his most fervent supporters — will quite likely give Mr. Biden a new opportunity to put the president on the defensive in front of a large audience of viewers.

Mr. Trump has cast himself as a populist champion of working-class and blue-collar Americans, even as his ostentatious demonstrations of his own, personal wealth have long been strikingly discordant with that attempt to craft a political identity.

Mr. Biden and other Democrats are certain to seize on the fact that the president has paid so little in taxes as evidence that he has little real connection to the working-class people he claims to represent.

The Manhattan district attorney has demanded access to the president’s tax returns for more than two years as state prosecutors investigate a range of possible financial crimes, including tax and insurance fraud, by Mr. Trump and his companies.

The Supreme Court ruled in July that the president could not block the district attorney’s subpoena for his financial records, rejecting Mr. Trump’s claim that, as a sitting president, he is immune from criminal investigation.

But the justices allowed Mr. Trump’s lawyers to raise other objections in lower courts. A Federal District Court judge last month rejected the president’s claim that the subpoena was “so sweeping that it amounts to an unguided and unlawful fishing expedition.”

Separately, the Democrat-controlled House has been fighting in the courts for access to the president’s tax records as part of their own investigations. The Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings backing the House’s right to the tax returns, saying the lower courts should consider separation of power issues.

Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey and a leader of the House effort to acquire Mr. Trump’s tax returns, said on Twitter that “I’m going to be reading every word of this blockbuster to see how far the crimes go. Wow.”

By Sunday evening, other senior Democratic lawmakers were condemning Mr. Trump.

“It appears that the president has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes,” Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. “Today’s report underscores the importance of the Ways and Means Committee’s ongoing lawsuit to access Mr. Trump’s tax returns.”

But even some conservatives reacted with alarm to the investigation. The Drudge Report, a right-wing news website, published a headline in red, all-capital letters: “THE FAKE BILLIONAIRE?”

Matt Drudge, the founder of the website, has long used it to publish stories friendly to Republicans and conservatives, though Mr. Trump has recently soured on Mr. Drudge. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Drudge in a tweet.

“Our people have all left Drudge,” Mr. Trump wrote. “He is a confused MESS, has no clue what happened. Down 51%. @DRUDGE They like REVOLVER and others.”

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