Tax claims add fuel to poll debate

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 29 Sep 2020

US President Donald Trump faced allegations that he paid little or no federal income tax for years before he came to power, as his cloudy financial past stoked controversy ahead of the first election debate.

The New York Times alleged the billionaire president paid just US$750 (HK$5,850) federal income taxes in 2016 - the year he won the White House - and 2017, and no federal income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing more money than he made.

Trump, who dismissed the accusations as "totally fake news," is preparing to face Democratic opponent Joe Biden at a pivotal live debate tomorrow morning (HK time).

The Republican leader has broken with presidential tradition by refusing to release his tax returns, fighting a long battle in the courts and triggering speculation about what they might contain.

"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 Times story that cited tax data extending more than 20 years.

The Times said that Trump reduced his tax bill via a US$72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an Internal Revenue Service audit. He also reportedly took tax deductions on residences, aircraft and US$70,000 in hair-styling for television appearances.

His golf courses also report losing large amounts of money, and hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he personally guaranteed will soon be due for repayment, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, TikTok won a last-minute reprieve as a US federal judge halted enforcement of a politically charged ban ordered by the Trump administration on downloads of the popular video app, hours before it was set to take effect.

District Judge Carl Nichols issued a temporary injunction at the request of TikTok, which the White House has called a national security threat stemming from its Chinese parent firm's links to the Beijing government.

The opinion was sealed, so no reason for the decision was released.

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