US President Donald Trump paid just $US750 ($A1070) in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his enterprises to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income.
In a report Trump dismissed as “fake news,” the New York Times said on Sunday the Republican president also paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years through 2017.
That was despite receiving $US427.4 million through 2018 from his reality television program and other endorsement and licensing deals.
The disclosure of previously private tax information came little more than a month before the November 3 election between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
Democrats were quick to seize on the report to paint Trump as a tax dodger and raise questions about his carefully groomed image as a savvy businessman.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter to ask Americans to raise their hands if they paid more in federal income tax than Trump.
Calling the report “total fake news” at a White House news conference, Trump again cited an ongoing audit as his reason for not releasing his returns.
In a statement to the Times, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten said he’d paid millions in personal taxes over the past decade, without weighing in on the specific finding of minimal income taxes.
Trump’s consistent refusal to release his taxes is a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates.
He is currently in a legal battle with New York City prosecutors and congressional Democrats seeking to obtain his returns.
He also previously indicated he preferred to minimize his tax bill, saying in a 2016 presidential debate it made him “smart”.
The Times reported Trump was able to minimize his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his empire.
It said he claimed $US47.4 million in losses in 2018, despite disclosing he had income of at least $US434.9 million that year.
The Times emphasised the documents reveal only what Trump told the government and didn’t disclose his true wealth.
The Times said it had obtained tax-return data covering over two decades for Trump and companies within his organisation.
It did not have information about his personal returns from 2018 or 2019.
The Times also reported Trump was currently embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $US72.9 million tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses.
If the IRS rules against him in that audit, he could have to pay over $US100 million.