President Donald Trump appeared to confirm key elements of reporting that his income tax bill in 2016 was just $750 while holding debts worth hundreds of millions, even as he said publication of his tax return information was ‘illegal.’
Trump got asked at Thursday’s town hall on NBC about a New York Times report that he paid just $750 in 2016 and again in 2017 as federal income taxes.
‘I think that’s a filing number. You pay $750, it’s a filing or a filing fee,’ Trump responding, appearing to confirm the bottom line assessment that the billionaire paid a fraction of what millions of Americans pay in federal income taxes.
President Donald Trump appeared to confirm key elements of reporting about his extraordinary $750 federal income tax bill in 2016, which he said was a ‘filing fee,’ while appearing to confirm he has hundreds in millions of debt but is ‘very under-levered’
Trump also did not knock down Times reporting, based on years of tax returns the paper said it obtained, that he owed $421 million in debts that would come due in his next term, many to foreign entities.
‘What they did is illegal, number one. Also, the numbers are all wrong with the numbers that were released. And just so you understand, when you have a lot of real estate, I have a real estate, you know a lot of it. Okay?’ Trump began.
But then he appeared to confirm the multi-million debt when he told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie it was just a fraction compared to his assets, and labeled himself ‘under-levered.’
Trump plugged a few of his properties, including the Doral golf club where he and secret service agents frequently stay when he visits Florida as he did Thursday.
‘Right down the road, Doral. Big stuff. Great stuff. I’m very under – when I decided to run, I’m very under-levered fortunately. I’m very under-levered,’ Trump said, using a word similar to the common financial term leveraged.
The New York Times obtained Trump tax returns showing he paid just $750 in income taxes on his 2016 return despite claiming to be worth billions at the time
NBC’s Savannah Guthrie quizzed Trump about his taxes and debts during a town hall meeting set up after the cancellation of a presidential debate
Trump used a question about his debts to plug his Doral golf course
‘I have a very, very small percentage of debt compared – in fact, some of it i did as favors to institutions that wanted to loan me money,’ Trump claimed, without further explanation.
‘Four hundred million, compared to the assets that I have, all of these great properties all over the world, And frankly – the Bank of America Building in San Francisco. I don’t love what’s happening to San Francisco …’ he said.
Trump said unprompted that ‘I don’t owe Russia money,’ but didn’t give a clear answer when asked if he owed to foreign entities.
‘Not that I know of but I will probably because it’s so easy to solve. And if you’d like to do. I will let you know who — who I owe whatever small amount of money,’ Trump told his interviewer.
He said it was ‘a very small amount of money.’ He added: ‘It’s very straight. It’s very, very straight. But it’s a tiny percentage of the worth.’
He once again turned down a chance to say he would release his returns when asked. ‘I’m under audit. it turned out that I am under audit,’ Trump said.
He also complained about the IRS, claiming he was getting unfair political treatment. ‘No person in their right mind would release prior to working out the deal with the IRS,’ he said. ‘I’m treated very badly by the IRS. They treat me very, very badly. You have people in there from previous administrations treat me very badly. But we’re under are under audit. It’s very routine in many ways.’
‘They like to change the game, change the rules, do everything,’ he said.
As he did four years ago, Trump said he wants to release his returns.
‘I would love to release them and as soon as we come to a conclusion, I will release them. And very gladly,’ he said.
He said of the Times: ‘I can tell you this, if they have my tax returns as you know, they have to go to jail. It’s illegal.’ It is a crime for a government employee to leak personal tax return information, but it is not known to be a crime for the Times to possess or publish it.