WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Donald Trump paid no income tax during the final year of his presidency as he accounted for losses from his growing business, according to tax statistics released by a congressional panel.
The records, released late Tuesday by the House Democratic-led Ways and Means Committee after a years-long battle, show that Trump’s income, as well as his tax liability, fluctuated significantly during his four years in the White House.
Records cut against the former Republican president’s long-cultivated image as a successful businessman as he mounts another bid for the White House.
Trump and his wife, Melania, paid a form of tax for all four years, the documents showed, but they were able to reduce the income tax in several years as the income from Trump’s businesses was more than depreciation and losses.
The committee questioned the legality of some of those deductions, including one of $916 million, and members said Tuesday that the tax returns were short on details. The panel is expected to release updated versions of his full compensation in the coming days.
Trump refused to make his tax returns public during his presidential bid and his campaign for office, even though every other major party candidate has done so for decades.
The committee obtained the records after years of fighting and is voting Tuesday to make them public.
A Trump spokesman said the release of the documents was politically motivated.
“If this injustice can happen to President Trump, it can happen to all Americans regardless,” Trump Organization spokesman Steven Cheung said Wednesday.
Democrats on the panel said their review found that tax authorities did not properly scrutinize Trump’s complex tax returns to ensure accuracy.
Although the US Internal Revenue Service was supposed to audit presidents’ tax returns every year, it didn’t do so until Democrats pushed for action in 2019.
The IRS assigned only one agency to the audit most of the time, the panel found, and did not examine some of the payments claimed by Trump.
The IRS declined to comment.
Before taking office, Trump reported large losses for several years in his business to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in income, according to media reports and test evidence about his finances.
Documents released by the committee showed that the pattern continued during his time in the White House.
During this time Trump and his wife were responsible for self-employment and domestic employment taxes. As a result, they paid a total of $3 million in taxes over the four years.
But the deduction has enabled them to reduce their income tax liability over many years.
In 2017, Trump and his wife reported adjusted income of $12.9 million, resulting in an income tax liability of $750, records show.
They reported adjusted gross income of $24.3 million in 2018 and paid $1 million in taxes, while in 2019 they reported $4.4 million in income and paid $134,000 in taxes.
In 2020, they reported a loss of $4.8 million and paid no income tax.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan in Washington Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington Editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.