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Trump’s taxes: Takeaways

By NICHOLAS RICCARDI

In one of its last acts under Democratic control, the House of Representatives on Friday released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, dating to 2015, the year he announced his presidential bid.

The thousands of pages of financial documents were the subject of a prolonged legal battle after Trump broke precedent in not releasing his tax returns while running for, and then occupying, the highest office in the land.

Some takeaways from a review of the documents:

A BANK ACCOUNT IN CHINA

The longtime real estate and media mogul with business interests on multiple continents was asked during a 2020 presidential debate about having a bank account in China. He said he closed it before he began his 2016 campaign for the White House.

“The bank account was in 2013. It was closed in 2015, I believe,” Trump said during the debate. “I was thinking about doing a deal in China. Like millions of other people, I was thinking about it. I decided not to do it.”

The tax returns, however, contradict that account. Trump reported a bank account in China in his tax returns for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The returns show accounts in other foreign countries over the years, including the United Kingdom, southern Ireland and the Caribbean island nation of St. Martin. By 2018, Trump had apparently closed all his overseas accounts other than the one in the U.K., home to one of his flagship golf properties.

The returns don’t detail the amount of money held in those accounts.

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NO REPORTED CHARITABLE GIVING IN 2020

In the final year of his presidency, Trump reported making no charitable donations.

That was in contrast to the prior two years, when Trump reported making about $500,000 worth of donations. It’s unclear whether any of the figures include his pledge to donate his $400,000 presidential salary back to the U.S. government.

He reported donating $1.1 million in 2016 and $1.8 million in 2017.

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MONEY FROM THE ARTS WORLD

Trump collected a $77,808 annual pension from the Screen Actors Guild, as well as a $6,543 pension in 2017 from another film and TV union, and reported acting residuals as high as $14,141 in 2015, according to the tax returns.

Trump has made cameo appearances in various movies, notably “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” but his biggest on-screen success came with his reality TV shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” where each episode would end in a boardroom setting with Trump dismissing a contestant with his trademark phrase: “You’re fired!”

Trump also reported paying a little more than $400,000 from 2015 to 2017 in “book writer” fees. In 2015, Trump published the book, “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again,” with a ghostwriter.

In 2015, Trump reporting receiving $750,000 in fees for speaking engagements.

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TRUMP VOWS PAYBACK

Trump broke political tradition by not releasing his tax returns as president. Now Republicans warn that Democrats will pay a political price by releasing what is normally confidential tax information.

Trump himself underscored that in a statement Friday morning after his returns were made public. “The great USA divide will now grow far worse,” Trump said. “The Radical Left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, that is a dangerous two-way street!”

Republicans on the House Ways and Mean Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax matters and released the Trump documents, warned that in the future the committee could release the returns of labor leaders or Supreme Court justices. Democrats countered with a proposal to require the release of tax returns by any presidential candidate — legislation that is unlikely to pass, given that Republicans take control of the House next week.

Notably, the GOP cannot disclose President Joe Biden’s tax returns because they’re already public. Biden resumed the long-standing bipartisan tradition of releasing his tax records, disclosing 22 years’ worth of his filings during his presidential campaign.

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