Throughout his campaign and presidency, there was a great deal of controversy about former President Trump’s tax returns. Many people wanted to see them, but they were never released.
Six years of tax returns were finally released to the public on December 30, 2022. The House Ways and Means Committee released the returns, which include thousands of pages of documents.
Given the controversy surrounding the tax returns – and the length of the documents – we’ve gathered the most important takeaways.
Trump Made Questionable Tax Claims
One key takeaway is that Trump made several questionable tax claims. These are questionable enough that they could get the attention of auditors.
An example of these claims is the interest that he claimed to receive from loans he made to his children. Experts believe this may indicate that Trump was trying to hide gifts. If Trump charged less than the market rate in interest, for example, it could require a gift tax.
These claims are especially questionable because some of the figures involved were round numbers. Such figures seem unlikely for loan interest payments.
Another example of questionable claims comes from Trump’s DJT Aerospace LLC company. That company claimed $42,965 in both income and expenses in 2017. While this is technically possible, it is statistically impossible.
Trump Had Foreign Bank Accounts While Being President
Another interesting aspect of the tax returns shows that Trump had a Chinese bank account from 2015 to 2017. He had that and other foreign bank accounts between 2015 and 2020. Other accounts were in the U.K. and Ireland.
This is important because of the question of influence and conflicting interests during his time as president. It is also concerning because of the amount of taxes Trump paid. In 2017, he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in the United States. However, he paid almost $1 million in foreign countries’ taxes.
To show the extent of potential influence or conflicts of interest, consider the following list. These are countries where Trump listed notable financial items, such as expenses, income, or taxes, on his returns:
- South Korea
- The United Kingdom
- The Dominican Republic
- The Philippines
- United Arab Emirates
- St. Vincent
- St. Maarten
- Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory)
Trump Made No Charitable Deductions in 2020
One of Trump’s major claims during his presidency was that he would donate his presidential salary to charity. This presidential salary is $400,000, and Trump regularly bragged about donating all or portions of it.
However, his 2020 tax returns show no charitable deductions. It seems unlikely that Trump would fail to claim this deduction on his taxes.
For reference, Trump paid $0 in federal taxes in 2020. This was due to a $4.8 million adjusted loss.
Trump Carried Losses to Reduce His Taxes
The tax returns confirmed that Trump had claimed large losses on his taxes. He then carried those losses forward to either eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of taxes he owed.
In 2015, he carried a loss of $105 million. In 2016, he carried a $73 million loss.
He Also Used Questionable Donations to Reduce His Taxes
Carried losses are not the only way that Trump reduced his income tax owed. He also reported sizable charity donations in both 2018 and 2019. These reduced his taxes owed significantly.
However, those charitable donations are not without their own criticism. For example, in 2015, Trump claimed a deduction of $21.1 million. This was for donating 158 acres of his Seven Springs property in North Castle, NY. The issue is that this donation was made to a land trust and is part of the criminal investigation into the finances of the Trump Organization.
The world finally got to see former President Trump’s tax returns. They showed that he took full advantage of loopholes and made questionable claims to reduce his tax burden. They also show potential conflicts of interest in the form of foreign investments.
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