Report on Trump’s taxes suggests business failures

According to The New York Times, President Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax in 2016 and he will owe $421 million in debt payments in the coming years even as his businesses lose money.
8:45 | 09/29/20

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Transcript for Report on Trump’s taxes suggests business failures
It was a bombshell. The New York Times out with a report detailing years of president trump's tax returns. He has paid no federal income taxes recently. He reportedly paid no taxes at all. Makes my blood boil. Don't put stock? It, it does not phase me. What makes him exempt, that is not fair. The New York Times giving a look at the trump empire. Detailing how his businesses were losing money year after year T president paying only $750 in federal income tax in the year he won the white house and he paid no taxes at all in the 15 years previous. For those saying he is a billionaire, to have only paid $750 in federal taxes, what do you think it says? Rich people engage in tax shenanigans all the time. This appears to be a different level of that. You could be really rich and have a really bad year and end up paying no federal income taxes. The issue here is, it was year after year after year. It's a startling revelation about the Manhattan real estate mogul who built his reputation on the art of deal and his reality show fame on the apprentice. I think the American taxpayers deserve to know more about his returns. What do you think that this report tells us about how president trump has portrayed himself as a very successful, very wealthy businessman? That, he is not the, the art of deal Uber businessman had that he portrayed himself as. That is new and important is the times has put irrefutable numbers around the reality of trump's business life and the extent to where he pushes the law. He has known and reported on trump for years. This is the Donald Trump we have known for decades. He is someone who is a serial bankruptcy artist and accustomed to gorging on debt that often gets him in trouble. The president calling the report fake news when it first broke. First of all, I paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes too. The New York state charges a lot. And I paid a lot of money in state. Tell us what you paid in federal income taxes? I didn't call on you. Tweeting today, I paid millions dollars in taxes but was entitled like everyone els to depreciation and tax credits. His rival, Joe Biden pouncing. Releasing a commercial showing what average Americans paid in income tax and what the president paid. ABC news has not independently reviewed the two decades of documents from the New York Times. On the headlines, the $70,000 in write offs of hairstyling when he was on the apprentice and how his marquis hotel blocks from the white house has lost $55 million since opening in 2016. Would you say that president trump essentially owes the American people money? Even if people look at this and say, how could this be? That doesn't mean necessarily he didn't have a legal right to be able to do some of this stuff. The president has boasted of paying little or no taxes. He didn't pay any federal income tax. So -- That makes me smart. What is your tax rate? It's none of your business, will see it when I release. I fight hard to pay as little tax as possible. In 2018, he claimed in possible filing that he made nearly $435 million. But now, in private tax records, the times reports the president lost $47.4 million. I have very little debt to anybody. I don't need debt. I'm so liquid I don't need debt. He may say he doesn't need it, but he has it. His personal obligations total $421 million, some of that coming due as close at next year. Trump who vowed to pursue no new foreign deals in office. He has received deals while in the white house. The president of the united States could owe, 300, $400 million. He may be able to figure out how to negotiate this. But you never want the president of the United States to be beholdened to anyone. Any president who has business dealings overseas and who is financially stressed poses a national security threat to the country because we can't trust that his or her judgment as president is not impaired by their own financial self interests. Those famous businesses the president touts from his golf courses here and in Europe to his hotels lost millions year after year according to the times. It really seems as though, it's a business or a series of businesses that are on life support. The paper also accuses the president and his companies of claiming aggressive deductions on some of those businesses. Including at Mara Lago when the president was in office, more than $109,000 for linens and silver wear and $200,000 for landscaping. I ask myself every time I'm entering a deduction or a suggesting a refund, is this something that the American people should be paying for, because every refund, every deduction means few er resources that the American people have at their finger tips. Every president dating back to Jimmy Carter has publically released his tax returns except for years trump has pinned his secretsy on an ongoing audit? It's under routine audit. When the audit ends, I will present them. I have been under audit for 15 years. The irs does not treat me well. The audit likely stems from a $36 million tax refund that he received in 2010. The irs is looking in to whether it's a legitimate write-off. An adverse ruling could cost trump more than $100 million. Stories about trump's business acumen have been swirling for years. In 1990, our Barbara Walters sat down with the then real estate man about other deals. Being on the verge of bankruptcy, being bailed out by the banks, skating on thin ice and almost drowning. That is a, that is a businessman to be admired? You say on the verge of bankruptcy, Barbara, and you say on the verge -- I talked to your bankers. That's fine, what did they say, depending what banker you are talking to, I don't know what the bankers have said, the plaza is a valuable property. They are saying he paid too much, he paid too. And now they are saying what a great deal. No, they are not. It does not shake his faith. I don't think it will change anything from a trump base. As a person who has attended 71 trump rallies over the last five years, eight this year, I see nothing but a ground swell of even more enthusiasm for the president. Delaware businessman Richard Snowden is a front row Yo. A trump devotee who tries to go to as many trump rallies as he can. We met with Snowden in Cincinnati in 2019. We wake up every day, thanking the lord that Donald Trump is ourpresident. He thinks today's news is nothing more than a distraction. All of us know as business people as tax paying citizens, that you do everything you can to legally avoid paying a ton of tacks. Snowden thinks it's okay that trump tried to avoid paying taxes. But one thing that will probably not be avoided is the topic of taxes when the presidential debate happens tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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