‘The emperor has no clothes’: Trump condemned by Democrats over records showing ‘chronic losses and tax avoidance’

Matt Mathers
·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Democrats have condemned Donald Trump over a report suggesting the president's businesses have made "chronic losses" and that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

Nancy Pelosi, House speaker and the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, accused Mr Trump, 74, of taking "extraordinary measures" to "game" the system to avoid paying his "fair share of taxes".

"It is a sign of President Trump’s disdain for America’s working families that he has spent years abusing the tax code while passing a GOP Tax Scam for the rich that gives 83 per cent of the benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent," Ms Pelosi, 80, said in statement.

A New York Times report published on Sunday night claimed to have accessed tax records for the president's businesses covering the past two decades.

According to the NYT, which said the records were "provided by sources with legal access to it", Mr Trump paid just $750 in income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.

He paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the previous 15 years, "largely because he reported losing much more money than he made", the NYT report added.

The president said the report was "totally fake news". "The IRS does not treat me well. They treat me like the Tea Party," he told reporters at a White House press briefing, referring to claims made by GOP figures that the Internal Revenue service targeted Republican-leaning groups during the Obama administration.

Lawyers for the Trump Ogranisation also dismissed the claims, describing them as "inaccurate".

Mr Trump's tax records have been the source of much speculation ever since he refused to release them while running for office in 2016.

And just a month out from November's election, Democrats were quick to seize on the NYT report. Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr, representative for New Jersey's 9th district, said "the emperor has no clothes," as he quoted a line from the NYT report that said: “Ultimately, Mr Trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life.”

Mr Pascrell, chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, added: "Today’s report underscores the importance of the Ways and Means Committee’s ongoing lawsuit to access Mr. Trump’s tax returns and ensure the presidential audit program is functioning effectively, without improper influence."

Richard Neal, representative for Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, said: "It appears that the President has gamed the tax code to his advantage and used legal fights to delay or avoid paying what he owes".

"Now, Donald Trump is the boss of the agency he considers an adversary. It is essential that the IRS's presidential audit program remain free of interference."

The NYT report gives Joe Biden, 77, more ammunition to attack the president with at the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, when the pair go head-to-head for the first time in the 2020 race for the Oval Office.

But Mr Trump's base supporters, most of whom have a disdain for "big government" and taxes, are unlikely to be put off by the news. During the 2016 campaign, Hilary Clinton repeatedly attacked Mr Trump over his tax and business dealings, which appeared to have little impact on the outcome.

The president responded to those attacks by saying he was "smart" for paying little tax.

Mr Trump is fighting multiple fires with regards to his business dealings. New York state is currently investigating the Trump organisation for inflating the value of its assets "on financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits”.

Meanwhile, a recent report by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) watchdog suggested that Mr Trump has generated 3,400 conflicts of interest since entering the White House in 2017.

Some 400 of those conflicts have come since February, according to CREW, an organisation that monitors the influence of money in Capitol Hill and has been keeping tabs on the Trump administration.

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