US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump
Photo: AFP

Donald Trump paid just $750 in income tax in the year he was elected US president and in his first year in the White House. In fact, he or his companies coughed up more in tax dues in India in 2017 ($1,45,400).

According to a report in the New York Times, he paid no income taxes in 11 of the 18 years the newspaper looked at, largely because he reported losing much more money than he made. The NYT report has come just days before Trump's first presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden on Tuesday and weeks before the November 3 presidential election.The US president immediately dismissed the report as "totally fake news". "It's fake news. It's totally fake news. Made up. Fake. We went through the same stories. You could have asked me the same questions four years ago. I had to litigate this and talk about it," he said. Trump, who campaigned for office as a billionaire real estate mogul and successful businessman, said he has paid taxes, though he gave no specifics. He has previously blasted the long-running quest for his financial records as a 'continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country’.

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances, but everyone since Richard Nixon has done so. Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings, is the only president in modern times not to make them public.

Trump minimized his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his businesses. He is also said to have filed business expenses under fancy heads, including $70,000 on styling his hair. A $95,464 payment to Ivanka's favourite hair and makeup stylist was also listed. Other write-offs included the cost of a criminal defence lawyer and a mansion used as a family retreat to a full accounting of the millions of dollars the president received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. The records "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image", the NYT said.

Democrats have been quick to seize on the report to paint Trump as a tax dodger and raise questions about his carefully groomed image as a savvy businessman. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter to ask Americans to raise their hands if they paid more in federal income tax than Trump.

Homes, planes and golf courses are part of the family business and, as such, Trump classified them as business expenses. Because companies can write off business expenses as deductions, all such expenses have helped reduce Trump’s tax liability.

During his first general election debate against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Clinton said that perhaps Trump wasn't releasing his tax returns because he had paid nothing in federal taxes. Trump interrupted her to say, 'That makes me smart.' The US President is also embroiled in a IRS audit over a $72.9 million tax refund.


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