While President Donald Trump’s initial reaction to the New York Times’ bombshell report that he paid little to no federal income taxes over nearly two decades was to dismiss it outright as “totally fake news,” his defense has since evolved into defense of tax-avoidance practices.
In a series of tweets Monday morning, the president attacked the Times for “bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information” and argued he was “entitled” to what he claimed.
“I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits,” Trump tweeted, defending how much he has paid in taxes without directly challenging the specific numbers raised by the Times.
But he did not answer reporters’ shouted questions at a Rose Garden event Monday afternoon.
The paper denies Trump’s tax information was obtained illegally. ABC News has not independently verified the Times’ account.
In a story published Sunday, the newspaper reported that the president paid just $750 in federal income tax the year he was elected and that same amount during his first year in office. The Times also found that he paid no federal income tax at all in 11 of the 18 years of information they examined.
Trump is the only president in modern history not to release his tax returns and could resolve the lingering questions about his taxes once and for all by simply releasing the information voluntarily. But instead, Trump has claimed that an ongoing audit prevents him from doing so.
While it’s not true that an audit prevents the president from releasing the information, as even his own IRS commissioner has confirmed, it is the case that the president is undergoing a decade-long audit battle over a $72.9 million tax refund, the Times report found.
Beyond the intricacies of the Times’ reporting, the story paints a damning portrait of a president who was elected on his image as a wealthy and successful businessman but whose records tell a story of a deeply indebted and struggling business empire stretched beyond its means.
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The president’s evolving defense to the report followed a “Fox and Friends” appearance by his son and business partner Donald Trump Jr., who similarly attacked the report without disputing its key claims and defended the use of maneuvers by the president to lower his tax bill.
“It’s ridiculous. My father has paid tens of millions of dollars in taxes, if he does things where you get depreciation, where you get historical write-offs like we did when we took on the risk of building the Old Post Office in