Everything Donald Trump Has Said About Releasing His Tax Returns

Revelations about Donald Trump‘s alleged tax affairs have reawakened a debate over the president’s personal fortune as well as putting his businesses under the spotlight once again.

A New York Times investigation found that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years and just $750 in federal income taxes in the two most recent years of the newspaper’s probe—2016 and 2017.

The report suggested Trump’s golf courses had lost massive amounts of money, which helped lower his tax bill.

The Times has not released the records it obtained in order to protect its sources.

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And Trump and his campaign team dismissed the claims as “fake news” and “riddled with gross inaccuracies.”

Trump is the first president since the 1970s not to make public his tax returns—a stance that has prompted legal challenges seeking to have them released.

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However a ruling by the Supreme Court in July meant Trump’s tax returns, banking records and other financial documents would remain undisclosed to the public, at least for now.

trump White House
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the election, according to a report by the New York Times.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

So what has Trump said about his—and his rivals’—tax returns in the past?

April 19, 2011

Back in 2011 when Trump was considered a future potential Republican presidential candidate, he suggested he might release his tax returns, tying it to a spurious birther claim that suggested Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. “Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate,” he said. “I’d love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate.”

April 13, 2012

Responding to information in a tax return released by Obama showing that in 2011 he paid $162,074 in federal taxes on a gross income of $789,674, the then businessman turned television personality wrote: “@BarackObama who wants to raise all our taxes, only pays 20.5% on $790k salary… Do as I say not as I do.”

May 20, 2014

Before Trump was president, he pledged to release his tax returns. During an interview with Ireland AM, he said: “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely.”

January 24, 2016

In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, Trump was asked about releasing his tax returns since his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton had provided every one of her tax returns since 1977. Trump replied: “Well, we’re working on that now,” he said. “I have very big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time, Chuck. Absolutely.”

February 11, 2016

“We’ll get them out at some point, probably,” Trump said when pressed on releasing tax returns to avoid the criticism faced by Mitt Romney in 2012, when the failed presidential candidate delayed publication of his filings.

February 25, 2016

Trump described his tax returns as “great” but insisted that had nothing to do with someone’s personal wealth. “Tax returns have 0 to do w/ someone’s net worth,” he tweeted. “I have already filed my financial statements w/ FEC. They are great!” On the same day he tweeted a photo of him signing a document next to a pile of papers, commenting: “Signing a recent tax return- isn’t this ridiculous?”

February 27, 2016

The president tweeted that an audit was preventing him from releasing his returns: “Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the audit, no problem!”

May 11, 2016

In the months leading up to the election, he again vowed to release his tax returns, but only after the audit had concluded, tweeting: “In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!”

April 16, 2017

Only a few months into the presidency, and facing protests around the U.S. over the issue, Trump wrote: “I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! [sic] Now Tax Returns are brought up again?”

November 7, 2018

Trump, again facing calls to make his tax returns public, suggested “people would not understand them” even if they were released. “It is big. And it is complex. And it is probably feet high.”

April 10, 2019

In April 2019, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, attempted to force the release of Trump’s tax returns. Trump responded in a White House briefing: “There is no law. As you know, I got elected last time with this same issue, and while I’m under audit, I won’t do it…”

May 11, 2019

Trump again refused to release the tax returns while they remained under audit, but he had the foresight to tweet that the issue would become a part of the 2020 election campaign: “I won the 2016 Election partially based on no Tax Returns while I am under audit (which I still am), and the voters didn’t care. Now the Radical Left Democrats want to again relitigate this matter. Make it a part of the 2020 Election!”

October 7, 2019

When a judge ordered Trump to hand over eight years of tax returns to New York investigators, the president tweeted: “The Radical Left Democrats have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump. A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!”

July 9, 2020

After the Supreme Court ruled that his financial records could be studied by prosecutors in New York, he wrote: “The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!”

September 27, 2020

Trump reacted angrily to the claims made in the Times report: “Actually I paid tax. And you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns are – it’s under audit, they’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS [Internal Revenue Service] does not treat me well, they treat me like they treat the Tea Party… they treat me very, very badly. But they’re under audit and when they’re not I would be proud to show it.”

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