Former President Donald Trump reported a stunning reversal of fortune during the middle two years of his presidency that led to a considerable tax bill, according to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation released Tuesday night.
The $1.1 million Trump paid in federal taxes in 2018 and 2019 stand in stark contrast to the $750 he paid in 2017 and $0 in 2020.
Trump’s tax bill grew substantially as his income surged in 2018 and 2019, according the report that included details on Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020, ahead of the planned release of the returns themselves. For example, Trump reported a $22 million capital gain in 2018 and a $9 million gain in 2019 from asset sales, sending his income into the black following years of enormous losses.
In 2015 and 2016, Trump reported he lost more than $32 million each year. In 2017, Trump said he lost nearly $13 million. But he reported taxable income of $24 million in 2018 and more than $4 million in 2019, giving him a sizeable tax bill.
Trump has leveraged massive losses he accumulated over the years to zero out his tax liabilities, as previously shown by a New York Times investigation. For example, the JCT noted that Trump carried forward $105 million in losses on his 2015 return, $73 million in 2016, $45 million in 2017 and $23 million in 2018.
“It’s the 2,000-pound gorilla. … He still uses the net operating losses” to reduce his tax liability, said Steven M. Rosenthal, senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
And once again, in 2020, as the pandemic raged on, Trump reported a loss of nearly $5 million. He paid $0 in federal income taxes that year.