Trump has barely paid income taxes in years—now he could owe over $120M


Since 2016, protesters and prosecutors alike have been suspicious of the morality of Trump’s tax forms.

Prosecutors have been pursuing former President Trump’s financial documents since 2015, believing that his tax filings amounted to criminal tax fraud after finding highly unusual loopholes in his tax forms. According to a September 2020 New York Times article, he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and 2017, and reported no other income tax payments in 11 out of the 18 years of records examined by officials. Simultaneously, he had been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes to foreign governments.

The investigation started after former executive of the Trump Organization and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress that he used the company’s funds for hush-money payments to Stephanie Clifford.

Trump has since gone great lengths to protect the privacy of his tax returns

“Trump had initially claimed that he was planning to make them public, but since he was under audit the IRS had prohibited him from releasing them,” Jacob Shamisan reported in an article for Business Insider.

There is no such IRS rule that supports Trump’s statement. Since then, he has refused to release these documents for reasons that remain unclear.

As an explanation for his tax filings, he claimed tax deductions from various sources. According to Trump, a majority of the deductions are from his business expenses, including $70,000 of hair styling for television. He managed to lower his taxes by suffering hefty losses on his businesses, which is evident from various reports.

Additionally, in 2019, he claimed that his presidency alone cost him around $5 billion, but refused to provide evidence. Records have proven that Trump greatly exaggerated the amount he has given to charities as well. 

Recently, however, the U.S Supreme Court allowed Manhattan prosecutors to obtain Trump’s files from the past eight years. These prosecutors will determine whether or not Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars due to tax fraud. The officials involved in this investigation are Democrats, and Trump has protested that they are politically biased while denying any accusations of his wrongdoing on multiple occasions.

The prosecutors now require Trump’s accountants to share business records and communication with the Trump Organization. By the end of this case, it’s possible that Trump could owe more than $120 million. 

So far, it has been proven that Trump has lied on at least some tax forms. For instance, he wrote the incorrect square footage for many of his assets, and it turns out that a lot of his expenses written off as “consulting fees” were paid to Ivanka Trump, his oldest daughter. The legitimacy of these fees will become a subject of a separate civil inquiry in addition to the investigation. 

According to Jacob Shamsian for Business Insider, Trump claimed that he had donated $130 million to charity, “but in reality $119.3 million (of what he claimed to donate) turned out to be the estimated value of pledges not to develop real estate, sometimes after a planned project fell through.”

Once the investigation is over it will become more evident whether Trump will be charged for tax evasion. First-year Paige McDonald shared her predictions. 

“I have not been staying up to date with… politics, but Trump is a dishonest person or has shown to be in the past so I feel like his taxes and other records won’t be (legitimate),” said McDonald. “I also think that he has been excused from far worse before, so even if they are not real, it probably won’t matter.”

Early College at Guilford junior Taylor Yang has similar opinions on the issue: “Although I do want Trump to be properly prosecuted for not paying taxes, especially since he is a billionaire, I don’t have much faith in the American legal system. He had already been impeached twice during his presidency, and yet he was acquitted both times, and has not faced any consequences. While I do think that Democrat lawyers will put up a good fight, I think that, ultimately, any Supreme Court case will end up favoring Trump.”

The outcome of this case will be a reflection of our legal system regardless of what happens. As McDonald and Yang both point out, this is not the first time Trump has been called out for his actions.