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Times: Trump paid chump change or nothing at all to IRS in 10 of last 15 years

President Donald Trump gestures during his White House

President Donald Trump gestures during his White House news conference on Sunday. Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

Next chapter: The story of Owe?

Donald Trump, the self-described multibillionaire, paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and also his first year in office, according a blockbuster story Sunday in The New York Times. The newspaper reports it obtained tax return data extending over more than two decades for him and his businesses from sources with legal access to it.

Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made, the Times said. But his luck in bucking the Internal Revenue Service and his lenders could be coming to an end.

Trump's finances are under stress from business losses and $421 million in debt coming due within the next four years that he has personally guaranteed, the report said. He's been fighting the IRS for a decade about the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. The cost, if he loses that battle, could be more than $100 million.

With his financial challenges mounting, records show Trump's ever-growing dependence on taking in money from his businesses, which puts him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president, the Times said. Lobbyists, foreign officials and U.S. government agencies, including the Secret Service, are among his paying customers.

Before becoming president, Trump made perhaps his greatest scores earning $427.4 million from hosting "The Apprentice" and licensing and endorsement deals. But much of that sum was invested in a collection of businesses, mostly golf courses, that have steadily bled cash, a reprise of the overspending of money from his father Fred Trump's real estate fortune that led to Donald Trump's financial meltdown in the early 1990s, the report said.

At a White House news conference that began shortly after the Times posted its story, Trump dismissed the report as "fake news" and maintained he has paid taxes, though he gave no specifics. He vowed that information about his taxes "will all be revealed," but he didn't say when.

He made similar promises during the 2016 campaign but reneged, saying he couldn't do it until the IRS finished auditing him. The audit does not legally bar Trump from making a voluntary disclosure. He complained Sunday that the IRS "treats me badly." Trump also has been in a protracted legal battle with the Manhattan district attorney, who is seeking his tax returns for an investigation of potential financial crimes, including tax and insurance fraud.

Hairs to a fortune

The Times summarized 18 revelations from its reporting. Some other highlights: Among the expenses Trump wrote off as business deductions, was more than $70,000 paid to style his hair during "The Apprentice."

Nine Trump entities have written off at least $95,464 paid to a favorite hair and makeup artist of daughter Ivanka Trump. Ivanka, while working as an employee of the Trump Organization, also appears to have received "consulting fees" that also helped reduce the family’s tax bill.

Since 2000, Trump has reported losing more than $315 million at the golf courses that he often describes as the heart of his empire.

Should he win reelection, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.

What about Obama?

Trump's tax-avoidance habit didn't stop him from sending out a tweet in 2012 to claim that then-President Barack Obama wasn't paying his fair share of taxes.

"@BarackObama, who wants to raise all our taxes, only pays 20.5% on $790k salary ... Do as I say not as I do."

Obama paid $162,074 for 2011.

Dems' best SCOTUS hope: Score points

At this stage, Senate confirmation of Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, looks virtually unstoppable. "We can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most, but we can't stop the outcome," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on ABC's "This Week."

But Joe Biden and Capitol Hill Democrats are looking to frame the confirmation fight as a battle over the future of the Affordable Care Act, Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez reports.

At his Sunday news conference, Trump defended his selection, accusing the media of targeting Barrett's Catholicism. Biden, a practicing Catholic, said in remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, that Trump viewed the vacancy as "a chance to fulfill his explicit mission — steal away the vital protections of the ACA from countless families that have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, the lives of those they love."

Trump went back to his unfulfilled pledge, now more than 4 years old, to come up with a better health plan. "Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court. Would be a big WIN for the USA!" he tweeted. Republicans are aiming to get Barrett confirmed before Election Day. The top court has scheduled arguments for Nov. 10 on a Trump-supported lawsuit to outlaw Obamacare.

Janison: Base instinct

Nobody yet knows which party will come out of a hyperpartisan season with the presidency in hand or if the "undecideds" are really all that undecided, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

But given the four years Trump has had to expand his support across America, it is remarkable to consider that his base actually may have shrunk on some fronts. In Minnesota, for example, a recent CBS News/YouGov survey had Trump trailing Biden among white voters by 2 points, after winning them by 7 points in 2016. It's similar in Wisconsin.

At times, the president poses as the master of a ruling faction rather than the democratically chosen president of a whole republic. Treating the Democratic Party as a subversive organization doesn't win him any new friends, at least not in the U.S. It jibes, however, with his exotic falsehoods about widespread election fraud and a defiant refusal to acknowledge the obvious fact he could lose fair and square.

If Trump wins, it won't likely resemble a consensus or a popular landslide. He will have done only what was needed to salvage his power and keep his faction in tow.

This day in polls

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found Biden retaining a 10-point lead over Trump in a head-to-head matchup. When the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates are offered as alternatives, Biden's advantage is 6 points.

Another national poll, from The New York Times and Siena College, found Biden ahead by 8 points among likely voters.

NBC News/Marist polling puts Biden in a 10-point lead in Wisconsin and up by 8 points in Michigan. Both states went to Trump in 2016. Polling by CBS News with YouGov found Trump ahead by 1 point in Georgia and behind Biden by 2 points in North Carolina. In South Carolina, Trump has a comfortable 10-point lead. All three of those states were in Trump's column four years ago.

Trump's message in a bottle?

Trump and his team have spent years trying to convince voters that Biden is doddering — "This guy doesn't know he's alive." It's strategy set to self-destruct if the Democrat delivers even a passable performance in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. So Trump is giving himself an out: If Biden does well, he could be on drugs.

"I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???"

Trump also called for drug tests in 2016 after Hillary Clinton performed well in a debate. Neither then nor now has Trump identified what he thinks would be a debate-enhancing drug, nor has he offered any evidence of better arguing through chemicals. "You can check out the internet — plenty of people say that," Trump said at his news conference.

It's probably for the best that he put three question marks at the end of his tweet.

Ex-campaign manager in scare

Fort Lauderdale police went Sunday to the home of former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale after his wife called to say he had guns and was threatening to harm himself, the local Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported.

Chief Karen Dietrich said Parscale didn’t threaten police, and he went with them willingly under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows police to detain a person who is potentially a threat to himself or others. He was taken to a hospital, she said.

Parscale was demoted in July. Others associated with Trump's campaign blamed Parscale for lavish spending that has put the reelection effort in a cash crunch. His ouster was predicted after he bragged that a million tickets had been requested for a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, only to end up with at least half the arena empty.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said: "Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible."

Coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond by Newsday's Rachelle Blidner. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • The Washington Post looked back at Trump's attempt in 1990, as he was facing financial disaster and his father, Fred, was mentally declining, to elbow out the rest of his family for control of the estate. Trump's sister Maryanne caught on and persuaded their dad not to change his will as Donald wanted, but the bad feelings within the family never went away.
  • Mary L. Trump, the president's niece who wrote a book calling him "the world's most dangerous man," told an LGBTQ political fundraiser that her uncle should be taken seriously when he says he may not agree to a peaceful transfer of power if Biden wins. She warned that Trump was willing to go "farther than you can possibly imagine" to cling to office and avoid facing potential criminal investigations, according to HuffPost.
  • Biden picked up an endorsement from Republican Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor and a Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush. The nation has "complex problems that demand thoughtful, intelligent leadership. We are getting none of it," Ridge wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He's the fifth GOP veteran of Bush's Cabinet favoring Biden.
  • Former Secretary of State James Baker, who served as a senior aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said he's supporting Trump although he thinks Trump is "crazy" and "nuts." Baker told journalists Susan Glasser and Peter Baker for their book on the 90-year-old Republican: "I won’t leave my party."
  • Trump enlisted Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie to help his debate preparation.

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