President Donald Trump personally holds $421 million in debt and loans that are largely coming due in the next four years, The New York Times reported Sunday after obtaining more than two decades of his long-sought tax returns.
An ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service, meanwhile, could cost Trump more than $100 million.
The Times report also revealed that the president’s vast business interests created potential and real conflicts of interest for years and are under more financial stress than the self-described billionaire has previously disclosed.
Documents obtained by the Times painted a more detailed picture of the president’s personal fortune and his network of 500 business entities, as well as the legal maneuvering he has employed to pay little or no taxes for many years.
The Times found that Trump paid just $750 in personal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and none at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, citing business losses in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to decrease his tax burden.
The Times did not obtain Trump’s personal tax returns for 2018 or 2019, but the breadth of documents — including records for his first two years in office — showed a large increase in income at properties that have become lightning rods for criticism after he refused to divest himself of his businesses while in office.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization told the publication that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” and the president himself said the report was “totally fake news” and “made up” in a Sunday news conference.
But the documents, obtained from unnamed sources that had legal access to them, painted by far the most detailed picture of the president’s finances.
Beginning in 2015, Trump was able to earn an extra $5 million a year from his club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida. The tax records detailed monthly credit card receipts that showed transactions ballooned at the Trump International Hotel in Washington and at Trump’s Doral golf resort, both of which have become favored destinations for foreign businesses and dignitaries.
Rental income at some of his properties in the United States has also risen dramatically since he won the presidency, and Trump’s revenue from properties he owns overseas totaled some $73 million in his first two years in the White House — including millions from the Philippines and Turkey.
The president has relied more heavily on those sources of income as other revenue sources dried up or were leveraged, the Times reported. The president took out a $100 million mortgage on commercial space in Trump Tower in 2012 on which he still owes the full amount, which is due in 2022. He also sold more than $200 million in stocks and bonds between 2014 and 2016, pumping much of the proceeds into his properties.
In 2018, Trump businesses reported just $34.7 million cash on hand, 40% less than five years earlier.
At the same time, auditors at the IRS are probing whether the president misused a provision in the tax code that allowed him a full refund — with interest — of the taxes he paid between 2005 and 2008, a total of $72.9 million. If the refund is disallowed, Trump could owe more than $100 million in restitution, interest and penalties.
It’s unclear how Trump’s lenders could force him to pay up should he win reelection; it would be unprecedented for institutions to foreclose on a sitting U.S. president who is personally liable for more than $400 million in loans and debts. That gargantuan figure could likely be leveraged again in the president’s favor: As a tax benefit when declared as losses for years to come, the Times reported.
Meanwhile, Trump paid far more in taxes to foreign governments than to his own.
“He reported paying taxes, in turn, on a number of his overseas ventures. In 2017, the president’s $750 contribution to the operations of the U.S. 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 Times reported.
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