Democrats in Congress released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, the culmination of a years long effort to learn more about the finances of a onetime business mogul who broke decades of political precedent when he refused to voluntarily release the information as he sought the White House.
The returns, which include redactions of some personal sensitive information such as Social Security and bank account numbers, are from 2015 to 2020. They span nearly 6,000 pages, including more than 2,700 pages of individual returns from Trump and his wife, Melania, and more than 3,000 pages in returns for Trump’s business entities.
Their release follows a party-line vote in the House Ways and Means Committee last week to make the returns public. Committee Democrats argued that transparency and the rule of law were at stake, while Republicans countered that the release would set a dangerous precedent undermining privacy protections.
Trump did not release his returns when he ran for president, a major break in practice, and had waged a legal battle to keep them secret while he was in the White House. But the Supreme Court refused last month to keep the Treasury Department from turning them over to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
“The Democrats should have never done it, the Supreme Court should have never approved it, and it’s going to lead to horrible things for so many people,” Trump said in a statement Friday. “The radical, left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, that is a dangerous two-way street!”
He said the returns “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.”
The returns underscore how Trump used tax law to minimize his liability.
A report by Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released last week showed Trump paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015, the year he began his campaign for president. He went on to pay $750 in 2016 and 2017, nearly $1 million in 2018, $133,445 in 2019 and nothing in 2020.
For 2020, the filings released Friday show, more than 150 of Trump’s business entities listed negative qualified business income, which the IRS defines as “the net amount of qualified items of income, gain, deduction and loss from any qualified trade or business.” In total for that tax year, combined with nearly $9 million in carryforward loss from previous years, Trump’s qualified losses amounted to more than $58 million for the final year of his term in office.
The release, just days before Trump’s fellow Republicans retake control of the House from the Democrats, provide the most detailed picture to date Trump’s finances, which have been shrouded in mystery and intrigue since his days as an up-and-coming Manhattan real estate developer in the 1980s.
The disclosures, which focus on Trump’s time in office and include foreign tax credits and charitable contributions, come a month after Trump launched another campaign for the White House in 2024.
The tax returns show that Trump claimed foreign tax credits for taxes he paid on various business ventures around the world, including licensing arrangements for use of his name on development projects and his golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.
Trump, known for building skyscrapers and hosting a reality TV show before winning the White House, did give some limited details about his holdings and income on mandatory disclosure forms. He has promoted his wealth in the annual financial statements he provides to banks to secure loans and to financial magazines to justify his place on rankings of the world’s billionaires.
Trump’s longtime accounting firm has since disavowed the statements, and New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit alleging Trump and his Trump Organization inflated asset values on the statements as part of a yearslong fraud. Trump and his company have denied wrongdoing.
The Joint Committee on Taxation report last week raised multiple red flags about aspects of Trump’s tax filings, including his carryover losses, deductions tied to conservation and charitable donations, and loans to his children that could be taxable gifts.
The House passed a bill in response that would require audits of any president’s income tax filings. Republicans strongly opposed the legislation, raising concerns that a law requiring audits would infringe on taxpayer privacy and could lead to audits being weaponized for political gain.
The measure, approved mostly along party lines, has little chance of becoming law anytime soon with a new Republican-led House being sworn in in January. Rather, it is seen as a starting point for future efforts to bolster oversight of the presidency.
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