In 2016 and 2017 each, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes — far less than many Americans who are working hard amid a deep recession to stay afloat. Trump took huge deductions — including $70,000 to take care of his hair — and also appeared to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars paying his daughter Ivanka as a consultant to the Trump Organization, according to the Times report. The story also reveals the extent to which Trump’s status as President is being used to shore up his losing ventures — for example his hotel in Washington, DC, and his golf resorts.
“This is a con man in the White House,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told CNN Sunday, referring to a President who shattered convention by refusing to release his tax records to the public while running for office.
Tony Schwartz, who penned Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” said even he was surprised by the “sheer brazenness” of Trump’s behavior, remarking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that it revealed the “kind of mind that would think ‘I can get away with paying no taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars in income.’”
It leaves the President facing multiple questions about his morals, behavior — and patriotism since he appears to be paying more in taxes to several foreign nations than he is to Uncle Sam. The reporting also raises the possibility that Trump’s deceptive accounting, already the focus of several investigations in New York, could open him up to serious legal issues when he leaves office.
The Times report, for instance, says that the President has been battling the Internal Revenue Service for years over whether losses he claimed should have resulted in a staggering tax refund of $73 million.
A debate opening for Biden
In the short-term, the New York Times report gives Biden a golden opportunity to put Trump on the defensive during their first debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday evening.