WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump paid just US$750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the election, The New York Times reported on Sunday (Sep 27), citing tax return data extending more than 20 years.
It added that he also paid only US$750 in his first year in the White House, and he had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing much more money than he made.
Trump immediately dismissed the report as "totally fake news".
"First of all, I paid a lot and I paid a lot of state income taxes too ... It'll all be revealed," Trump said as he shrugged off the New York Times story that cited tax return data extending more than 20 years.
US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances, but every one since Richard Nixon has done so.
Trump has broken with presidential tradition by refusing to release his returns, fighting a long battle in the courts and fuelling speculation about what they might contain.
He also previously indicated he preferred to minimise his tax bill, saying in a 2016 presidential debate it made him "smart".
His tax returns, a key talking point in the 2016 election, have been a constant presence during his presidency and ahead of the Nov 3 election, when Trump is seeking a second term.
The New York Times said the tax data that it had seen "provides a road map of revelations, from write-offs for the cost of a criminal defence lawyer and a mansion used as a family retreat to a full accounting of the millions of dollars the president received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow".
The records "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image," it added.
Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told the paper in response that "over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015".
The New York Times reported that Trump was able to minimise his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire. It said he claimed US$47.4 million in losses in 2018, despite saying he had income of at least US$434.9 million in a financial disclosure that year.
It emphasised the documents reveal only what Trump told the government about his businesses, and did not disclose his true wealth.
The New York Times said it had obtained tax-return data covering over two decades for Trump and companies within his business organisation. It did not have information about his personal returns from 2018 or 2019.
It also reported that Trump was currently embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a US$72.9 million tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses. If the IRS rules against him in that audit, he could have to pay over US$100 million, according to the newspaper.