US President Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax for 2017, his first year in the White House, compared to $145,400 his businesses paid in taxes in India that year, The New York Times reported.
Trump dismissed claims in the bombshell report as “fake news”.
In 2017, his businesses also paid substantially more taxes in Panama ($15,598) and in the Philippines ($156,824), said The Times, which said it had accessed the president’s previously undisclosed tax information.
Trump paid $750 in 2016 as well, the year he ran for president and won. That was still way more than what he had paid the previous years. “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,” the report said.
He also got tax write-offs on business expenses such as meals and his aircraft, as well as on “the cost of haircuts,” including the more than $70,000 paid to style his hair during ‘The Apprentice’, a TV show he hosted, it said.
“Together, nine Trump entities have written off at least $95,464 paid to a favourite hair and makeup artist of Ivanka Trump,” the report added.
It cited Trump businesses’ tax payments in India to underscore his manipulation of his finances to pay less to negligible taxes at home, which he has not acknowledged by refusing to release his tax returns, claiming they are being audited.
The report gave no details of the taxes in India. According to previous media reports, the Trump Organization’s largest overseas operations are in India.
In the first two years of his taking office, the India businesses earned him $2.3 million, The Times said.
In his first two years in the White House, the bulk of his $73 million earnings from foreign operations came from properties in Scotland and Ireland, while $3 million came from the Philippines, and $1 million from Turkey.
The report drew a picture of President Trump that runs contrary to his self-propagated image of a successful businessman. His marquee golf course in the US and Europe, for instance, are all running in losses. So is his luxury hotel in Washington DC, just a few blocks from the White House, which is being patronised by his supporters and foreign governments lobbying his administration.
Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told The Times that “most, if not all, of the facts (in is report) appear to be inaccurate”.
“It’s fake news,” President Trump told reporters at a news conference in the White House. “It’s totally fake news. Made up. Fake.”
He went on to say, “Actually, I paid tax, but – and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns – it’s under audit.”
“They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. They treat me like the Tea Party – like they treated the Tea Party. And they don’t treat me well. They treat me very badly.”
The report came just two days before the first of the three presidential debates.
But will it impact his re-election prospects? His core supporters have been seen to be unmoved by all negative reports and revelations about him.