Yesterday, the New York Times released a major investigative story about President Trump’s taxes, showing that in 11 out of 18 years from 2000 to 2017 he paid no federal income taxes. He paid a paltry $750 in 2016, the year he first ran for president, and again in 2017, his first year in office, when he rammed through a major tax cut that largely benefited wealthy people like himself.
The following is a statement from Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, which has led the fight for Trump’s tax returns for several years:
“Since 2015, when he started running for president, Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns. We now know why: despite being a billionaire, he goes years without paying any federal income taxes, as many of us had suspected all along. He is a tax cheat and an expert at exploiting the loopholes in the system that the wealthy like him and their lobbyists in Washington employ pliable politicians to insert into the tax code.
“Trump consistently pays less in federal income taxes than some of the lowest-paid workers in America, many of whom are now risking their lives to provide vital services during the pandemic. He is the poster child for everything that’s wrong with our corrupt tax system—living proof of why we need a fair share tax system that demands the most from the those with the most to give: the ultra-wealthy like Trump.
“The New York Times investigation reveals that Trump paid a total of $1,500 in federal income taxes over 13 years from 2000 to 2017, while living a lavish lifestyle and occupying a place on the Forbes list of U.S. billionaires every year since at least 2000, according to Forbes data maintained by Americans for Tax Fairness. His wealth over those years, according to Forbes estimates, ranged from a low of $1.7 billion in 2000 to a high of $4.5 billion in 2016. In 2016 and 2017, Trump paid just $750 a year in federal income taxes. That is about two bucks a day, or less than an average cup of coffee. Despicable!
“Among Trump’s maneuvers to avoid paying taxes was writing off personal expenses as business costs, including $70,000 to style his hair while starring in ‘The Apprentice.’ He also inflated business deductions, and thereby lowered his tax bills, by paying himself and his daughter, Ivanka, for ‘consulting services.’”
“Yet Trump had the gall, along with the GOP majorities in Congress, to ram a $2 trillion tax cut through Congress in 2017, that mostly benefited rich people like himself and major corporations. At the time he claimed: ‘This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me. This is not good for me.’
“As it turns out, Trump did not need his tax cuts since he was paying almost nothing anyway. But he probably considered the law an insurance policy against paying taxes in the future if he ran out of tax loopholes to exploit or lost his nerve to violate tax laws, as the latest Times story and an earlier one from 2018 indicate he has been doing for decades. ATF prepared an analysis of how we thought Trump would benefit from his tax cuts. We now see how timid our predictions were.
“I hope this latest in a long line of Trump tax revelations is a wake-up call to Congress. If we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top, we need to create a fair share tax system that closes loopholes, cracks down on tax cheats and prevents any unscrupulous tycoon—sadly, including the president of the United States—from dodging their tax obligations for decades on end.”