U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S., September 24, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
President Donald Trump’s businesses have hemorrhaged hundreds of millions of dollars over the last two decades, allowing him to minimize his federal income tax bill to $0 or nearly $0 for many of the years in that period, according to a bombshell report published on Sunday by The New York Times.
Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and another $750 the following year, the newspaper reported, and none at all in 10 of the previous 15 years.
The losses also strained Trump’s finances, according to the paper. He is personally responsible for more than $420 million in debt, most of which is coming due within the next four years, according to the Times.
The report, which comes just two days before Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden meet for the first general election debate of the 2020 contest, appears to be based on the most complete collection of the president’s recent tax returns assembled to date.
The Times said that the story is the first of several, with more to be published in the coming weeks. Two of the reporters who authored the story won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for an investigation of the president’s finances based on earlier tax records.
CNBC has not seen the documents reviewed by the Times.
Trump called the story “fake news” at a White House news conference that took place shortly after the story was published.
The Trump campaign did not provide a comment. The White House referred CNBC to Trump’s private lawyers. An attorney who has represented the president did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An attorney for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, said in a statement to the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts” the newspaper reported appeared to be inaccurate.
“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,” Garten said.
Trump has bucked the precedent followed by every major presidential contender since the 1970s by refusing to release his tax returns. He has provided shifting explanations for his refusal to do so.
According to the Times, the tax records do not reveal any previously unknown ties to Russia, which have been the subject of much speculation. The records do detail questionable practices, however, including a $72.9 million tax refund under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
During his first two years in office, Trump took in $73 million from foreign sources, according to the Times.
The newspaper reported that the bulk of that money came from his golf properties in Scotland and Ireland, though he also received $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million from Turkey, according to the paper.
The Biden campaign did not immediately provide comment on the Times report.