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Trump denounces NYT story revealing low tax bill, claims he was entitled to ‘depreciation’ and ‘tax credits’

President Trump.
President Trump.Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg

President Trump, in a series of tweets on Monday morning, denounced the New York Times' explosive Sunday report on his tax returns and suggested that his low tax bill was due to “depreciation and tax credits,” even as critics including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the news raises national security concerns.

The Times on Sunday reported that Trump paid as little as $750 in federal income tax the year he was elected, and zero for many years prior to that.

Trump, in his tweets Monday, claimed the Times report contained “illegally obtained” information, and denied that he is heavily indebted.

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In its report Sunday, the Times said all of its information came from sources with “legal access” to Trump’s records. Trump also falsely claimed that he is the only president ever to donate his government salary. John F. Kennedy donated his salary to charity, according to news reports from the time, as did Herbert Hoover.

Meanwhile, Trump’s critics continued to react to the Times report, which found that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, and only $750 in federal income tax in 2016, the year he was elected president. The paper reported he also paid $750 in 2017, his first year in office.

It also found Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt from loans that he has personally guaranteed, which are coming due in the next few years. Most of that debt comes from the Doral golf resort in Florida ($125 million) and Trump’s Washington hotel ($160 million), two properties that the Times said are struggling financially.

Pelosi on Monday said that the debt raises national security concerns.

“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt,” Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC Monday. “To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question.”

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Pelosi added that the public deserves to know who holds the president’s debt.

“He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. To whom? The public has a right to know,” she said.

Trump found multiple ways to reduce his tax bills, according to the Times, which reported he has taken tax deductions on personal expenses such as housing, aircraft, and $70,000 to style his hair while he filmed “The Apprentice.” Losses in the property businesses solely owned and managed by Trump appear to have offset income from his stake in “The Apprentice” and other entities with multiple owners.

During the first two years of his presidency, Trump relied on business tax credits to reduce his tax obligations. Trump, starting in 2010, claimed and received an income tax refund that totaled $72.9 million, which the Times said was at the core of an ongoing audit by the IRS. The Times said a ruling against Trump could cost him $100 million or more.

The Times declined to publish the records on which the report was based, citing concerns about the confidentiality of its sources.

Trump’s tweets Monday were a departure from remarks he made during a press conference on Sunday, when he called the Times report entirely “made up.”

Speaking from the White House Sunday, Trump dismissed the Times report as “fake news” and maintained he has paid taxes, though he gave no specifics. He also vowed that information about his taxes “will all be revealed,” but he offered no timeline for the disclosure. He made similar promises during the 2016 campaign, but never followed through.

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Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.