Trump Paid $1.1 Million in Taxes During Presidency, but $0 in 2020, Report Shows
In his first three years as president, Donald J. Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes before paying no tax as his income dwindled and losses once again mounted in 2020, according to tax data released Tuesday by a House committee.
The data, which includes details of Mr. Trump’s federal tax returns from 2015 through his full term in the White House, shows that he began his presidency suffering the sort of large business losses that had defined much of his career and paid almost nothing in income tax. But his fortunes changed in 2018, as he reported $24.3 million in adjusted gross income and paid nearly $1 million in federal tax.
Mr. Trump’s tax returns show that he was in the black the following year as well, reporting $4.4 million in income and paying $133,445 in tax. But in 2020, as the country staggered under the coronavirus pandemic, his finances reversed course: Mr. Trump reported a loss of $4.8 million and zero income tax.
The fresh details of Mr. Trump’s taxes emerged from two reports released late Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee, which had waged a legal battle to obtain the records from the Internal Revenue Service that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The reports contain the committee’s summation of its findings but not the raw tax returns, which are expected to be released in coming days.
The new information adds to what is publicly known about Mr. Trump’s income tax history, something he had fought for years to keep hidden. Two years ago, The New York Times detailed tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization. Those records told a story fundamentally different from the one he had sold to the American public.
His reports to the I.R.S. portrayed a businessman who took in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, yet racked up chronic losses that he aggressively employed to avoid paying taxes. But while the personal income tax data analyzed by The Times ran only through his first year in the White House, 2017, the information released Tuesday encompasses his entire presidency.
As previously reported by The Times, Mr. Trump paid just $750 in federal income tax and reported $12.9 million in losses in his first year as president, in keeping with a long pattern of reporting losses and paying little or no taxes. The newly released data shows that in 2018, his sudden burst of income occurred largely because he had sold properties or investments at a gain of $22 million. He also appears to have exhausted business losses he had been rolling over year after year to reduce his taxable income. The precise source of the income gain is not clear from the reports.
By 2020, however, Mr. Trump had returned to reporting losses. In fact, despite the capital gains that boosted his bottom line in 2018, the entirety of his core businesses — mostly real estate, golf courses and hotels — continued to report losses every year, totaling $60 million during his presidency. He was able to recoup $5.47 million because he had made millions of dollars in estimated tax payments that he ended up not owing.
Tuesday’s report also raises questions about some of Mr. Trump’s business practices, and the committee has requested that the I.R.S. investigate some of them further. Among them are his charitable contributions.
The tax records previously obtained by The Times show that Mr. Trump made significant charitable donations over the years, but that the vast majority of them came in the form of land donations, often after he had exhausted efforts to develop it.
The new tax data showed that while in the White House, Mr. Trump made charitable contributions in cash, something the House committee said warrants further investigation.
“We would have inquired as to whether the large cash contributions were supported by required substantiation,” the report said.
The Times’s findings were cited several times in the report, and helped shape the direction of the committee’s investigation.
For instance, Mr. Trump owns an estate in Westchester County, N.Y., called Seven Springs. For years it was a classified as a personal residence. The tax records obtained in 2020 by The Times showed that in 2014, Mr. Trump reclassified the estate as an investment property.
Since then, he has written off $2.2 million in property taxes as a business expense — even as the law allows individuals to write off only $10,000 in property taxes a year.
On Tuesday, the committee revealed that the I.R.S. was looking at this tax maneuver.
The reports also showed that Mr. Trump continued to collect large sums of interest income, a total of $38.1 million during his presidency. They do not disclose the source of that income, but the tax returns previously obtained by The Times showed that through 2017 nearly all of his interest income came from his share of profits earned by a partnership that is controlled by Vornado Realty Trust.
The partnership owns two valuable office towers: 1290 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan; and 555 California Street in San Francisco. Mr. Trump, who has a 30 percent share in the partnership, has no authority over its management, and it has consistently been his strongest-performing asset.