House Democrats released six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, marking an end to a protracted legal battle staged by the former US president as he mounts his third bid for the White House.
The redacted documents shed additional light on the former president’s personal and business dealings just 10 days after the Democratic-led House ways and means committee released a summary of his filings.
The report, which was compiled by Congress’s non-partisan joint committee on taxation, showed Trump paid $1.8mn in federal income tax between 2015 and 2020, having reported negative income in several of those years and minimal to no tax liability.
Trump declared no taxable income for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020, having reported $82mn in combined losses across that period. In 2018 and 2019 — the two years for which he reported taxable income — he declared nearly $29mn of adjusted gross income.
The returns revealed the scale of Trump’s financial entanglements with his adult children, who paid the former president more than $300,000 in interest between 2015 and 2020, including $18,000 a year from his daughter Ivanka.
The House committee previously reported that agents from the Internal Revenue Service had found that the arrangement warranted investigation to determine whether the loans were “disguised gifts that could trigger gift tax”.
The report noted the majority of the Trump vehicles in some years reported “either no gross income (ie only expenses), or gross income and expenses that entirely offset, raising the questions of whether these were valid trade or business activities, or whether these schedules contained costs derived from personal activities or hobbies”.
“A president is no ordinary taxpayer. They hold power and influence unlike any other American. And with great power comes even greater responsibility,” Richard Neal, the chair of the House committee, said in a statement when the initial report was released last week.
On Friday, Don Beyer, a Democratic committee member from Virginia, admonished Trump for having “abused the power of his office to block basic transparency on his finances and conflicts of interest which no president since Nixon has foregone”.
“As the public will now be able to see, Trump used questionable or poorly substantiated deductions and a number of other tax avoidance schemes as justification to pay little or no federal income tax in several of the years examined.”
In a statement released on Friday, Trump said the documents “once again show how proudly successful I have been and how I have been able to use depreciation and various other tax deductions as an incentive for creating thousands of jobs and magnificent structures and enterprises.”
Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax returns both as a presidential candidate and in office broke with a precedent that has been in place since the 1970s. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has made public 24 years’ worth of documents. In 2021, Biden and his wife paid $150,439 in federal income taxes on $610,702 of adjusted gross income, translating to a tax rate of 24.6 per cent.
The filings published on Friday provide new insight into an intricate corporate structure that divides Trump’s business and real estate interests into dozens of companies and partnerships, few of which have ever been required to make substantial public financial disclosures.
The summary by Congress’s non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation published last week highlighted the use of foreign tax credits and revealed that $1.3mn was claimed for 2018. According to the documents released on Friday, the former president claimed credit for taxes paid in a string of countries worldwide, from Panama to Azerbaijan, the UK and China.
His 2016 tax form shows Trump had bank, securities or brokerage accounts in the UK, Ireland, the Caribbean island of Saint Martin and China.
Republicans hit back at the release of the documents, with the congressional panel’s minority leader, Kevin Brady of Texas, on Friday warning Democrats would “come to regret” the precedent it set.
“Democrats have charged forward with an unprecedented decision to unleash a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president, overturning decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since Watergate,” he said.
Republicans are due to take back control of the House of Representatives on January 3.
Friday’s release marked the latest blow to Trump and his business empire following the launch of his third bid for the White House ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Last week, the bipartisan congressional committee that is probing the January 6 attack on the US Capitol said Trump should be prosecuted for assisting the insurrection to overturn the 2020 election results and also face criminal charges for obstructing an official government proceeding, conspiring to defraud the US and knowingly making false statements to authorities.
That was preceded earlier this month by a conviction by a New York jury, which found the Trump Organization guilty of running a 13-year tax fraud scheme.