The same year when he was elected, US president, Donald Trump paid $1,45,400 taxes in India and $750 in the US. Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and was elected in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The report was dismissed by Donald Trump as “fake news”. India is yet to comment on the matter.

Going through the tax return data of 20 years, the New York Times (NYT) reported, “Donald J Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.”

The report also said that Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years – largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

Just days before Trump’s first presidential debate with Democratic rival, Joe Biden, on September 29, 2020, the NYT released this report.

According to the US Law, disclosing details of personal finance is not mandatory for US presidents but all the presidents after Richard Nixon have been doing it. Donald Trump remains to be the only president, who has chosen not to disclose the details of his personal finances.

Instead, Trump has taken people seeking information about his returns to court. The US house too was taken to the court by Trump, as it accessed his tax returns as a part of congressional oversight

The report also stated, “His reports to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president…” 

The report is claimed to have obtained tax-return data extending over two decades for Trump and the hundreds of companies that fund his business organisation. It also includes detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019.

The report claims, “He reported paying taxes, in turn, on a number of his overseas ventures.”. Adding to it, “In 2017, the president’s $750 contribution to the operations of the US government was dwarfed by the $15,598 he or his companies paid in Panama, the $145,400 in India and the $156,824 in the Philippines.”

The report stated that the data, “reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image”.

Trumps response to the allegations

At a press briefing in the White House on Sunday, Trump dismissed the report calling it “fake news”.

He also said, “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…” 

Adding, “I paid tax…you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns – it’s under audit. They’ve been under audit for a long time.” 

Donald Trump also accused the International Revenue Service of bad treatment for him. He said, “You have people in the IRS – they treat me very badly…The New York Times tried the same thing. They want to create a little bit of a story…they’re doing anything they can.”

He responded to questions regarding his tax returns saying, “First of all, I’ve paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes, too. The New York State charges a lot and I paid a lot of money in state. It’ll all be revealed. It’s going to come out…after the audit.”

He claimed that he has 108 pages of tax filings. He stated, “Those filings are very complete. They’re very big. They’re very powerful. They’re very accurate. Those are the filings that you’ll learn much more and when it’s done.” 

Donald Trump has already been subject to a lot of controversies, just before the presidential elections of America, on November 3, 2020.

Why is Trump’s audit such a big deal?

In late March 2016, Trump released a letter from his tax attorneys and accountants attesting to the fact that all of his tax returns from 2009 are currently being checked by the IRS.

According to the Vox, the reason Trump’s tax returns are so complicated is that the Trump Organisation is a somewhat unusual business venture. A more typical rich entrepreneur might have founded a company that later staged an IPO, and Trump would be rich today because of a mix of salary he has paid as CEO of his own company and because he owns shares of stock in the company. However, the Trump Organisation isn’t a company at all. Instead, it’s simply a catchall phrase for a loose agglomeration of approximately 500 separately incorporated entities that Trump either wholly or largely owns. Each of these companies has its own set of transactions each year, which end up registering on Trump’s personal taxes.

Therefore, it is true that Trump’s tax situation is a little complex. However, the published tax returns will offer a deeper insight into Trump.

Apart from this, their is no legal rule in US stating that a person who’s being audited can’t release his returns.

Why Trump’s finances matter?

In 2016, when Trump was a candidate, all his backing was of his alleged business prowess. He had no record in elected or appointed office, didn’t serve in the military, and hadn’t been involved in policymaking or public affairs in any way. However, now, in 2020, he has a record of being appointed and working in the office. He has failed to show his tax returns even after being demanded it for four years. The NYT report just fueled the demand to an irreparable extent.

Throughout his term as US President, Donald Trump has been surrounded by controversies. His recent comments on the handover of power and ballot boxes have drawn widespread criticism. Also, his comments on coronavirus and delayed actions to curb the pandemic has negatively impacted his image.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are extremely close competitors this election. The Democrats and the youth are bidding for Joe Biden and the Republicans are set to vote for Donald Trump’s second term.